‘Gate defy an atrocious pitch to extend win run

3rd Novenber 2012.'Harrogate v Birkenhead,  Rugby Union.'Pictured Harrogate's Sam bottomley in the thick of the action'Picture by Gerard Binks.
3rd Novenber 2012.'Harrogate v Birkenhead, Rugby Union.'Pictured Harrogate's Sam bottomley in the thick of the action'Picture by Gerard Binks.

Harrogate team manager Graham Siswick praised his side’s battling qualities as they defied horrendous conditions to overcome Birkenhead 24-10 last Saturday.

The bonus-point victory extended Gate’s winning run to eight games and maintained the pressure on title rivals Chester.

Siswick’s side next host local rivals Bradford and Bingley on Saturday in a National League Three fixture that has already been postponed twice this season (3pm).

Siswick was forced into a last minute re-jig of his side before the tie at Birkenhead after centre Ollie Denton pulled up with a hamstring injury, Arnie Ellison moving up from the substitutes bench.

Gate fell 10-0 behind in the opening 20 minutes of the contest as Birkenhead slotted over a penalty before Stuart Brown drove over a converted try from a 15 metre maul.

But the away side hit back with a driving maul of their own. Tim Heaton benefited as he crashed over before Callum Irvine landed an excellent touchline conversion.

It wasn’t long before Gate took the lead when Jake Brady powered through for a fine converted try after his side overturned a Park attack.

At the half-time break, Park changed their mud-filled shirts to appease the referee who struggled to differentiate players at the breakdown.

The Harrogate scrum began to dominate into the second period and the backs joined the forwards’ good work in an exhibition of controlled, wet weather rugby.

Sam Brady made it a family occasion by scoring the first points of the half with a converted try. Substitute Mike Aspinall then set up Gate’s final try with a dazzling run as he laid off for Peter Wackett to clinch the bonus point.

Siswick said his side’s victory was one of the best performances they have produced this season.

“It was a hugely spirited performance,” he said. “They really worked hard for each other in atrocious conditions.

“A lot of things went against us but we came out and got a very valuable win.

“It was the worst conditions we have played in for several seasons. The conditions just got worse and worse.”

Siswick hopes Denton will return for the clash with Bradford and Bingley as he welcomes a clean bill of health in his squad.

The team manager says his players will approach the derby with the highest intensity and have put the following week’s match with Chester to the back of their minds.

“We played them back in October and they gave us a torrid time,” he said. “They may be fourth bottom but we will not be taking them lightly.

“It is our local derby and it takes on a different complex. There’s a lot of local pride at stake. They will fancy their chances but we are in determined mood.

“We will probably start as favourites and have home advantage but it will be a tense game.”