A very Happy New Year to all and welcome to the Latus Leisure Ferens Ground for today’s important league fixture against our old friends from Harrogate RFC.
Harrogate were formed in 1871 and have a long and proud tradition in both Yorkshire and England rugby football circles. After playing at the old Claro Road ground for almost their entire history they began season 2015-16 at their new Rudding Lane ground and had a crowd of over 1000 spectators for their first ever game there when they beat Otley 15-10. Our side have played there twice since then and it is a fine new venue and something to be proud of.
This season Harrogate are lying fifth in the table with 45 points from their 13 games compared to our 54 points from 14 games. In the corresponding game at Rudding Lane on September 23rd we posted a 27-23 victory after a very tight game. With Harrogate beating visitors Wirral by 25-17 and ourselves losing narrowly at Preston last Saturday there is no reason to expect anything but another close game today.
It is a great pleasure to welcome the players, officials and supporters of Harrogate RFC to our ground this afternoon.
Last Saturday our side made the long journey to Preston Grasshoppers in a game where first in the table met the second and after our 10-10 draw on September 16 another very tough and close game was on the cards. We were not to be disappointed as the game was an absolute cracker. ‘Hoppers led 12-10 at the break and ran out winners by 24-18 scoring four tries to our two but we were somewhat unlucky not to have scored in the final minute when a very good move saw Lee Birch tackled two yards short of the line. The match reports on the respective websites are well worth reading and reflected the game very clearly and fairly. Try-scorers for Hull were Joe Martin and Lee Birch with Steve Johnson landing one conversion and two penalties.
Elsewhere in the division Rossendale won a very close game at Kendal by 24-17 to move to seventh in the table; Kirkby Lonsdale broke their long run of defeats with a 21-12 home win over Ilkley and third placed Lymm had a far from easy 22-8 home win over Sandal. Morley could have expected another heavy defeat at the hands of visitors Billingham who have scored 422 points this season, but they battled very well before going down by the narrowest of margins, losing 14-13; in the basement battle Pocklington would have fancied their chances of a rare win over visitors Birkenhead Park, but Park took the spoils with a 23-15 win. Former Hull centre Ben Thoy scored twice for Pocklington.
All this means that ‘Hoppers now have a 13 point lead over second placed Lymm and 16 over third placed Hull who both have a game in hand. Down in the nether regions Pocklington and Morley are both on 10 points and Birkenhead Park are on 16. All three are well below Sandal who are on 26 points.
In today’s fixtures my three to watch are firstly the game we will see here today where third meet fifth; Wirral v Lymm where sixth meet second, but Wirral have won 7 from 8 at home and are a tough prospect at their Memorial Ground; and finally Sandal v Morley where eleventh play thirteenth. Will Sandal make their 10 point lead over the strugglers up to 15 or will Morley, after their great show against Billingham, make it a Yorkshire derby to be remembered? Your guess is as good (or maybe better) than mine.
Congratulations are offered to two of our players this week. Firstly to our flying winger Steve Hihetah who scored his 27th try of the season in the game against Pocklington on December 16th when he ran in 3 tries. He beat Danny Smith’s previous record of 26 which was set up in the 2005-06 season. Danny took a full season to amass his total, Steve has done it in half the time and could easily set up a total that should stand for a very long time. Well done Steve, and well done to the players who made it possible!!
Secondly our very popular prop/hooker Mike Jobling (Jobbers) who made his 100th appearance for Hull RUFC at Preston to become the club’s 31st Centenarian, three of whom became double Centenarians.
Very well done Mike, may you post many more appearances for our club.
Mr. John Kirk
A minutes silence was held before the Pockington game for John Kirk who died a couple of days prior to the game. John was the father of our former player James Kirk and during James’s spell with the club was a regular attender at our games both home and away, along with his wife Lesley. He also had two seasons as our Fourth Official during our period in National Two North, showing his great commitment to Hull RUFC. Rest in peace John, you were a fine gentleman.
The referee for today’s fixture is Mr. Daniel Woods of Doncaster who is making his second visit of the season to our ground as he was in charge of our game with Preston Grasshoppers on Sept 16th.
He will be assisted by Mr. Martin Plummer and Mr. Carl Walsh. Mr. Barry Dalby and Mr. Bill Allerton will act as observers. We welco me all five officials to our ground and hope they enjoy their afternoon with us.
NEXT HOME MATCH
Hull v Morley
Saturday January 27th 2018
Kick-off 2-00 pm