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Champions suffer rare defeat at Harrogate

Newly crowned national Division three Champions Hull found their play-off seeking opponents Harrogate, in determined mood and a highly competitive game was won by the home side with the last play of the game when their second row forward Andy Bolde surged over the line for a try converted by centre Nathan Wyman.

Hull started the game well and having won the ball from the kick-off they looked set to score an early try but a dropped pass deep in the Harrogate twenty metre area saw the chance evaporate. 

Moments later another good penetrating run saw Lee Birch edged into touch at the corner flag.

Harrogate slowly worked themselves into the game and their defence was well marshalled stifling Hull’s attacking options. Hull were able to keep good field positions by the astute kicking game of off half Simon Humberstone but it was Harrogate who had the chance to go ahead after 30 minutes but a very kickable penalty was missed by centre Nathan Wyman. Five minutes later Hull’s off half Humberstone convert a similar opportunity to give Hull a slender three-point lead.

Two minutes later Hull, were indebted to Humberstone once again when he sent a beautifully-weighted flat pass to winger Mike Adlard who race 60 yards to the line and was only halted in the act of scoring by a high tackle resulting in a penalty try to Hull which added seven points to their score and a yellow card for Harrogate’s back row forward Hugo Tasker.

Hull’s 10-point lead at the break was short lived as Harrogate came out for the second half looking to avenge their two-point defeat at Hull earlier in the season.

Just two minutes into the second half, Harrogate struck when an astute kick by half-back Danny Matthews was followed up by winger Andy Lawson who collected the ball to sprint over the line for a try. The conversion by Wyman saw Hull’s lead cut to three points.

Worse was to follow when Hull’s scrum half Harvey Harding had to leave the field injured and then Harrogate’s centre Wyman followed up his own chip ahead to gather and score his sides second try. His successful conversion saw his side take the lead for the first time in the game 14-10 after 50 minutes.

Hull then withstood 20 minutes of relentless pressure. With Harrogate edging the scrums and Hull’s lineout ball being intermittent Hull were not able to go through the phases and put any consistent attacks together. It was to their credit that despite having much of the ball the home side were unable to find way through Hull’s defence.

After 78 minutes it was Hull who retook the lead. They made the most of a couple of scrums five yards out. On the second of these Hull shoved the Harrogate eight over their own line and as the home side sought to collapse the scrum a penalty try award saw Hull with seven more points and a 17-14 advantage.

The final stages of the game were played at a frantic pace and it was Harrogate who summoned up one last atack and when their second row Andy Bolde plunged over for a converted try Harrogate sealed a win that gives them real hope of a play-off place.

Hull the dominant side in this league are already promoted as champions and suffered only their second reverse of the season.

Richard Gore

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