Saturday 7th April 2018
North Premier Division
HARROGATE 20 – 21 LYMM
Report by Neil Allen
Lymm prevail in the Harrogate mud
After much debate in the week and overnight, the pitch was finally passed fit to play and this much anticipated top of the table clash was given the go ahead. Whilst it now looks increasingly like Hull have secured second spot these two teams, who have matched each other all season, still had a lot to play for.
A large Lymm contingent who had travelled hoping for springtime in Harrogate where greeted with conditions that resembled more like a wet weekend in Bognor. Still spirits were high as the rain abated and both sets of players were warmly welcomed onto the heavy Harrogate pitch. The Lymm team saw the return of Jake Ashall to the fold but other than that it was generally the squad who have equipped themselves admirably all season.
The pattern of the game was set early on with the Harrogate forwards putting pressure on the Lymm eight and Lymm, when in possession, going through the phases and throwing it about nicely with pace and skill, orchestrated by half-backs Andy Davies and Scott Redfern. On 15 minutes, much to everyone’s surprise other than the ever alert Davies, Lymm secured a scrum penalty. Davies took a quick tap and fed James Kimber who off-loaded to Scott Redfern. Redfern pirouetted out of a tackle and made ground before passing it out of the back door for Matt Connelly to crash over. With Redfern adding the extras, Lymm led 0 – 7.
Scott Redfern breaks before passing to Matty Connelly for Lymm’s first try
Harrogate came back strongly with the forwards forcing a penalty, 7-3. Harrogate where now seeing more of the ball and the Lymm defence, which has been excellent all season, started to go to work. When in possession however Lymm looked dangerous and on the half-hour mark Joe Denman, who has stepped up admirably to replace unavailable Cormac Nolan at full-back, took a high ball and set off through the mud evading numerous would be Harrogate tacklers before eventually passing to Olli Higginson to score, Redfern converting 3 – 14,
Harrogate came back again through the forwards and with the Lymm scrum creaking secured a line-out penalty close to the line. Lymm resisted the first surge but in doing so lost Jake Ashall to a yellow card. At the second attempt Harrogate drove over to make the half-time score 8-14.
The first half had been absorbing and had seen a contrast of rugby styles between the bludgeon and the rapier. With Harrogate playing with the wind the Lymm contingent feared the bludgeon might prevail.
These fears were quickly realised, as Harrogate came out for the second half with all guns blazing and immediately made the extra man count driving over through the forwards from close quarter to take the lead 15-14. Then it was Lymm’s turn to come back, imposing their brand of rugby. Davies again made a break and with his now familiar trade-mark, no look inside ball, released Kimber who in turn put Luke Richards over. Another highly skilled score. 15-21 to Lymm.
James Kimber about to off load to Luke Richards
Back came the bludgeon as Harrogate camped on the Lymm line. The Lymm goal-line defence was immense, repelling waves of line-out and scrum drives and eventually relieving the pressure with a penalty. The relief was however short-lived and Harrogate finally went over from close quarters to take the score to 20-21. Lymm’s heroic defence had however taken precious time out of the game and with only 5-minutes remaining it was now anybody’s game.
Lymm managed to secure possession and went through the phases calmly deep into the Harrogate half. Davies managing affairs and keeping the ball out of Harrogate’s grasp. With the clock ticking down Davies’s skilled game management frustrated the less subtle Harrogate forwards who eventually fouled the scrum-half. The ensuing penalty provided a kick to nothing. Redfern, pushed it wide but it didn’t matter, the referee blew the whistle and the victory was Lymm’s. On top of this great result, the club were also delighted with the news that 18year old prop Matty Hand, had been selected for the North of England U20;s squad.
FT 20 – 21
This was a great game by two-well matched sides who both executed their differing game plans with great skill. In the end it was the Lymm defence which has been immense all season, and a little bit of star quality, that prevailed. The Lymm party retreated into the Harrogate night very proud of their team and a great team effort. Next Saturday Lymm are at home to Ilkley KO 3pm
Team: 1) Gav Woods, 2) Adam Bray (C), 3) Jordan Widdrington, 4) Joe Watson, 5) Matty Connelly, 6) Sam Mullarkey, 7) Jake Ashall, 8) Olli Higginson , 9) Andy Davies, 10) Scott Redfern, 11) Luke Richards, 12) Tom Bray, 13) James Kimber, 14) Ali Sutherland, 15) Joe Denman, 16) Matty Hand, 17) Grant Sneddon, 19) Joe Fisher.