An uncharacteristically leaky Harrogate defence meant Mike Aspinall’s side slumped to their third consecutive defeat in a closely fought match against struggling Birmingham & Solihull on Saturday.
The loss means Harrogate have failed to bounce back from suffering back to back defeats for the first time this season after their impressive record of seven wins on the bounce came to an end against leaders Ampthill and District.
Initial attacking rugby from both sides tested each other’s defences and the first score came from a Harrogate counter attack from deep as James Morland scored in the corner.
The Bees counter attacked from the restart with Steven Johns bursting through the midfield and passing to fellow centre Rob Connolly who beat the cover to score. Adam Canning’s conversion put the Bees 2 points ahead.
Another Bees score quickly followed when winger David Evans scored a converted try and they went still further ahead from a Canning penalty after a Harrogate offside offence.
Cam Ledley brought Harrogate back into the match with a try converted from the touchline by Joe Rowntree and the hosts then took the lead through a Morland converted try.
Birmingham quickly countered and regained the lead from a smartly taken Canning drop goal which was soon extended by a penalty when Harrogate went offside and then another converted try through some individual Canning brilliance.
Harrogate went up a gear from the restart and a Birmingham offside offence let Rowntree reduce their lead with a penalty and a series of driving mauls on the Bees line ended with a Willem Enslin converted try to make the score 29-30.
A quickly taken penalty was then spun right for Bottomley to squeeze in for a try in the corner to put Harrogate 34-30 ahead towards the end of normal time.
But, into injury time, a Harrogate clearance kick was charged down and the Bees quickly recycled the ball for Evans to score the winning try.
Harrogate could have regained the lead in the lead In the last move of the match but Rowntree’s long range penalty attempt went narrowly wide.
Harrogate will now host ninth placed Broadstreet this Saturday with Mike Aspinall’s side coming out on the right side of a 24-28 scoreline the last time the two sides met back in October.
The visitors come into the game on the back of an impressive 26-23 victory over fourth placed Caldy at the weekend.