Rugby Union: Harrogate set for Sandal showdown

23 March 2013...   Harrogate v Chester National League 3 North.' Gate's Callum Irvine runs at the Chester backs
23 March 2013... Harrogate v Chester National League 3 North.' Gate's Callum Irvine runs at the Chester backs

Harrogate Rugby team manager Graham Siswick issued his second rallying call in a month for supporters ahead of their pivotal battle with Sandal on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).

Siswick urged the Claro Road faithful to beat the support that saw them overcome Chester last month in what he labelled the “biggest match of the season”.

National League Three leaders ‘Gate head into the contest in perfect form after extending their winning run to 11 games by thrashing Percy Park 43-10 away last Saturday.

But Saturday’s third-placed opponents also carry momentum into the match as they hammered Kendal on Saturday 119-0 to record their 16th win in 17 games.

The Wakefield-based side beat Harrogate 20-17 in National Three North earlier this season, thanks to a last minute drop goal.

And Siswick believes they will offer his side another stern test but is confident his players have the strength to continue their title charge.

He said: “This is going to be one hell of a game.

“This is a pivotal one which will have a final say in the placing order. They have real pace and have finishers in the backs. But they are going to come up against a team that can defend better than other teams they have played. We back ourselves against anybody and we have home advantage.

“No one has done the double over us this season. We don’t want to give up that record.”

The team manager hopes the people of Harrogate turn out to create an imposing home atmosphere.

He said: “We need the biggest crowd of the season. We want everyone with any connection with the club to come down and make plenty of noise.

“It is going to be a memorable game and one that is going to have a massive outcome on the end of the season.

“It is a ‘cup final’ so to speak.”

Sam Bottomley ran in a hat-trick as a rampant ‘Gate struck seven tries against Park at the weekend.

Siswick said he welcomed a clean bill of health and he would entrust the same squad of players to battle Sandal.

He said: “We were anticipating a difficult game. They are fourth in the league and they had beaten us at home.

“But we got off to a good start and we never looked back. We bossed the game from start to finish.”

“We will look to keep the same, This team has played together for several games with the same bench. I don’t think there’s any reason to alter that.”

The first try at Park came from a driving maul before Callum Irvine dummied over.

After turning over a Park attack, Pete Wackett then scythed through the home defence, Aarin Yorke touching down for a try converted by Irvine.

Sam Bottomley then powered over for a 30 metre try, but Park hit back with a try when Harrogate lost Tim Heaton to the bin.

But on his return Heaton clinched the bonus point with a converted try on halftime.

Bottomley notched his second after Park were turned over once again, before a dazzling Irvine break set up Bottomley for his hat-trick, again converted by Irvine.

Park claimed another score but Harrogate resumed control, when after a quickly taken penalty and powerful driving maul, Sam Brady touched down for a try converted by Irvine to end the match in style.

lAdults can watch Saturday’s clash with Sandal for half-price and kids under 16 can enter for free.