Broadstreet Rugby Football Club made the long trip to the historic North Yorkshire spa town of Harrogate a rewarding one, returning to Coventry with four league points having pipped Harrogate RUFC by a single point.
On an overcast, blustery day at the equally historic and soon-to-be-vacated Claro Road ground – Harrogate ’s home since 1896 - a shower started almost as soon as the referee’s whistle set the game in motion with Street playing up the hill and against the breeze writes Lee Stanton (the satellite link to Bob Harcourt [in Manchester for the day] having failed miserably).
Harrogate started brightly while Street were still on the bus, when after two minutes Gate switched the play swiftly from right to left along Street’s 22 to engineer a huge gap in Street’s cover for no. 12 James Morland to saunter in for a comfortable try. At the time, the ease with which this was done certainly did not auger well for the remainder of the match. Fortunately, the try was scored close to the touchline and, as became evident, place kicking was not to be one of Harrogate ’s foremost attributes on the day, the conversion being missed by Joe Rowntree. Harrogate 5 Broadstreet 0.
Harrogate continued to apply pressure, only hard-nosed defence keeping the Yorkshire men at bay, culminating in Street falling offside defending a rolling maul in front of the posts for a penalty that Joe Rowntree couldn’t miss. Eight minutes gone and Harrogate 8 Broadstreet 0.
It had been all Harrogate up to now, the rain had stopped leaving the ball and the surface very greasy, but Street managed to break free to mount a sortie near Gate’s 22 where the hosts transgressed offside and up stepped Ben Palmer on twelve minutes to launch his afternoon master class in the art of penalty kicking (well, almost a master class – he did miss one out of six penalty attempts). Harrogate 8 Broadstreet 3.
At this stage, Street’s scrum was coming under mounting pressure and after nineteen minutes it was forced back in a five metre scrum with no. 9 Danny Matthews on hand to apply the finishing touches for try number two for Harrogate. Again the conversion was missed Harrogate 13 Broadstreet 3.
On a number of occasions during the first half Gate’s player/DOR, Mike Aspinall playing at at 10, employed the tactic of chipping the ball through or over the approaching Street defence down the slope towards the left hand corner for their speedy backs to run on to. One such rifling through worked successfully, but having gathered the ball, the player then knocked on in the process of grounding the ball - a let off for Street. The visitors, now finding their feet, started to get into the game and made a number of incursions into Harrogate territory. Another three penalties ensued before half time with Ben Palmer missing one from five metres into the Harrogate half, as it drifted narrowly wide of the left hand post, but scoring two others on 25 and 34 minutes. So, Street went in at half time just four points behind Gate having been very much second best in terms of possession and territorial advantage. Halt Time: Harrogate 13 Broadstreet 9.
Having failed to turn their dominance into points, Harrogate came out all guns blazing at the start of the second half and had the upper hand for the first ten minutes with a number of flowing backs moves - all thwarted and then a number of driving mauls, one of which resulted in a try for lock Tom Harvey on fifty minutes (which was heavily celebrated in the clubhouse afterwards, as it was his first try for the club – on his ninetieth appearance). The conversion was missed. Harrogate 18 Broadstreet 9.
Further offences by Harrogate were heavily punished by Ben Palmer with successful penalties on 52 and 60 minutes. Harrogate 18 Broadstreet 15.
It had been a feature of the game that Harrogate turned down many opportunities to go for the posts, opting instead for penalty lineouts, but after 61 minutes Broadstreet’s seasoned replacement hooker, Stewart Pearl was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on (harshly, some would say – but we would, wouldn’t we?), presenting a clear sight of goal for Joe Rowntree to land a penalty on 62 minutes thereby putting some daylight between the respective scores and Pearly in the sin bin for ten minutes. Harrogate 21 Broadstreet 15.
Inexplicably, the roles were now reversed in the set scrums as Street were now in the ascendancy and their efforts paid off after 71 minutes when Gate prop Andy Boyde infringed in a retreating scrum as the visitors were about to score. No hesitation from the referee – penalty try and Gate’s Boyde to the sin bin. Conversion by Ben Palmer. Harrogate 21 Broadstreet 22.
Pearly returned to the field, as play continued for the last eight minutes with Street camped in Harrogate’s 22, without being able to turn their advantage into further points, although Gate appeared to be within a whisker of conceding a second penalty try, when the referee blew at a retreating and disintegrating Harrogate scrum and, heading towards the posts as if to signal a second penalty try, then changed direction back to the scrum to award another penalty; a re-set, from which Street failed to control the ball and the position was lost without gain.
Full Time: Harrogate 21 Broadstreet 22.
A valuable win for Street. Not pretty, but effective – a ne’er say die attitude accompanied by plenty of enthusiasm and expertise. One home supporter claimed afterwards that the penalty count for the game was sixteen against Harrogate and three against Broadstreet, implying that the host’s failure to win was down to the referee. It only seemed that way, as Street made much better use of their opportunities as the actual infringement count was eighteen versus twelve. Courtesy of Ben Palmer’s boot and the seventeen points generated there from and the sterling defence in the first half that stopped Harrogate from turning their advantages into a decisive points margin in the first period. Well done, Street – a gritty performance.
Squad: Ben Cooper; Jeff Gregson, Andy Murray, Beau Carney, Josh Palmer; Ben Palmer, Nick Thatcher; Joe Foreman, Mike Worthington, Jake Dodd; Aaron Crofts, Matt Solomon; Danny Wright, Gareth Turner, Chris Wood. Stuart Pearl, Henry Sandys, Jamie Harrop, Dan Martin, Piotr Wisniewski.
Man of the Match: All twenty in the squad with special mentions for Piotr Wisniewski and unsurprisingly, Ben Palmer.
With this victory, arguably there’s now a reasonable chance of Broadstreet remaining at this level in the league structure and being in a position to visit Rudding Lane, Follifoot next season, the new home of Harrogate RUFC, assuming of course that the North/South boundary doesn’t move further north.
Mustn’t be complacent though, as it’s strengthened and resurgent Hull next week – No let-up boys!