DCSIMG

’Gate pray pitch is ready for Yorkshire home derby

3rd Novenber 2012.
Harrogate v Birkenhead,  Rugby Union.
Pictured Harrogate's Callum Irvine looks to set up another attack
Picture by Gerard Binks.

3rd Novenber 2012. Harrogate v Birkenhead, Rugby Union. Pictured Harrogate's Callum Irvine looks to set up another attack Picture by Gerard Binks.

Harrogate’s trip to Penrith last Saturday did not survive Friday’s snow, and the club are hoping Claro Road will be ready for this weekend’s Yorkshire battle with Bradford and Bingley (2pm).

Melting snow and subsequent rain have left the first team pitch in something of a state and the National Three North derby, rearranged from January 19, may require a pitch inspection before action can commence.

All being well though, Harrogate are eyeing a fourth win on the bounce, but expecting a gritty encounter against a side fighting relegation.

With second-placed Harrogate pushing hard for promotion, it’s a game of huge significance for both teams and the scrap for local supremacy will add ‘extra spice’, according to team manager Graham Siswick.

“It’s a big game but will very much depend on the state of the pitch, it wasn’t playable at the start of the week and will probably need an inspection,” he said.

“But the boys are raring to go after the frustrations of the last few weeks, and there is a lot at stake for both teams this weekend.

“We beat Bradford in September but it was by a small margin. They dominated us in the forwards and they’ll fancy their chances of repeating that at Claro Road, but we scored five tries which won us the game.

“They’re a bit of an erratic side but do have a lot of good players.

“Henry Paul, the former dual-code player is their backs coach and sometimes turns out, but their real strength is in the forwards.

“It will be a real battle, a lot of the players know each other, the supporters know each other and it’s a derby so there’ll be some extra spice to it and should be a good atmosphere.”

Harrogate enter the clash virtually at full strength.

Centre Pete Wackett remains out through a hamstring injury, but front rower Ben Innes comes back into contention.

“We’ve won the last three and really need to keep building this momentum,” Siswick continued.

“Everyone’s had three weeks off, and although training has been difficult - they trained on the snow last week - the boys are putting in the hours and have done will in the circumstances.

“There’s 10 games left, five of which are at home including this Saturday’s, and although at the moment we’re in contention for the play-off spot against the second-placed side from the Midlands, we’re still pushing to finish top.

“The game against Chester on March 16 is a key game in terms of that battle.”

 

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