DUDLEY K'FORD 7
THE team travelled north to Harrogate with an air of enthusiasm, perhaps fuelled by the anticipation of a night stopover in the night spots of Leeds. This enthusiasm was evident from the kick off and DK should have taken the lead within the first minutes.
The hosts commenced the game with a slight wind advantage and were quickly penalised for a high tackle. Gareth Bown drilled the ball deep into Harrogate territory and from the resulting line out, possession was secured and the ball fed to the backs. Kieron Pinches made an excellent break and decided to go for the try line only to be brought down inches from the whitewash when the better option would have been to pass to a two man overlap. The hosts managed to clear their lines.
As in previous games, the superior weight and strength of the opposition's forwards began to take its toll and in the 12th minute Harrogate won their own line out and mauled the ball for 20 metres for flanker Noel Miniken to touch down. Joe Rowntree added the extra points.
Although being outmuscled in the set pieces, DK were refusing to lie down and in the 18th minute were rewarded with a penalty for Harrogate handling on the floor. Gareth Bown's kick drove the hosts into their own 22, DK won their line out and the ball was transferred along the three quarters only for the final pass to go astray. Cruelly, the loose ball was gathered by the home side and they ran the length of the field for Sam Bottomley to score. The try was converted by Joe Rowntree: Harrogate 14 – DK 0
There then followed an equal passage of play, the only difference between the teams being that Harrogate used the elements much better than DK, who continually refused to kick but opted to run the ball. In the 23rd minute following an excellent break by Harrogate's fly half Irvine Callum, they were awarded a penalty for a technical infringement. They spurned the opportunity of three points and elected to kick for position. They won the resulting line out and in a carbon copy of their first try, mauled the ball 15 metres for Aurin Yorke to touch down. Joe Rowntree was unable to add the extra points.
Undeterred, DK came storming back and following some extreme pressure Harrogate's Sam Bottomley received a yellow card. Gareth Bown found touch and DK won a good line out ball, and following a flowing movement along the backs Liam Marshall crashed over for a fine try. Gareth Bown converted with an excellent kick from the touchline: Harrogate 19 – DK 7
With half time approaching following some poor DK tackling, the hosts created space in the centres and Stephen Parsons took full advantage to score. Once again Joe Rowntree added the extra two points.
DK started the second half exactly as they did the first, exerting pressure on the hosts only to be let down by some indifferent tackling. This was highlighted in the 45th minute when Harrogate's centre Luke Edwards took advantage of poor defence to score.
The signs were now looking ominous and the fears were that the flood gates would open. However, the reverse was to happen. With magnificent courage and resolve DK began to secure the upper hand. The back row worked tirelessly and huge breaks by Jon Tideswell and man of the match Matt Squires sent the hosts reeling. Following one 50 metre break Matt Squires was controversially denied a try.
The touch judge, in a perfect position, nodded to indicate the try had been scored only for the referee to overturn the decision for a double movement. Even this disappointment did not deter the DK effort and Connah Jones was proving to be a thorn in Harrogate's side with his tap and go tactics resulting from the numerous penalties the hosts were giving away.
However their defence was proving to be extremely resistant and they eventually cleared their lines when DK were penalised for crossing when in a very promising position. On 55 minutes, DK made several changes in a reshuffle of their side: Ash Newall, Connah Jones, Dan Richards, Donovan Smile, and Kieran Pinches made way for Russell Newall, James Jefferson, Sam Pedley, Josh Brown, and Ryan Smitherman.
These changes did not disrupt the DK performance and they continued to dominate territorially and came close to scoring on several occasions.
However, as in previous matches final passes were going astray and spoiling very promising situations. The Harrogate defence proved very difficult to breach but the constant pressure was forcing them to continually concede penalties and in the 67th minute, the referee finally lost his patience and yellow carded Nathan Smith.
In the 69th minute and with Harrogate down to fourteen, DK were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them, when totally against the run of play they broke out of defence well inside their own half for Danny Matthews to score. With Joe Rowntree, who had kicked magnificently all afternoon, off the field the try went unconverted.
This proved to be the final score of the game. The small travelling band of DK supporters would have been extremely pleased with the performance of the team especially in the second half when they refused to give in and proved more than a handful with their display of courage and determination.