To say that Loughborough Students visit to Harrogate was a tense game of rugby would be an understatement. Harrogate held their defensive line with sheer determination and contested well with the Students in a tightly fought game.

The first half started and at first it looked as if Loughborough had the upper hand with the smooth kicking of Andy Hall successfully putting 9 points on the board for the Students.  Despite a dubious decision denying the Students a try from a 5 metre, centre Chris Kinloch outpaced Harrogate fullback Ed Smithies to touch the ball down on the line soon after.

Not everyone agreed with referee William Halford’s decision to allow the try, believing it had been touched down by the fullback before Kinloch got hands on it. Nonetheless whether supporters agreed with it or not Hall stepped up to kick the first conversion of the match to bring the students to a lead of 16-0 with half an hour gone.

Harrogate’s disbelief spurred them on, and although Loughborough held the home side up at the break down, phase after phase eventually paid dividends as the white line was free for Harrogate’s prop Andrew Fraser to get the home side on the scoreboard just before the end of the first half. This made the half time score 16-5.

Whatever was said to the Harrogate players during half time worked as when they returned for the second half not only did they look revitalised but also determined.  Loughborough had countless opportunities to capitalise as Atkinson, Silcock and Conquest all made breaks, but Harrogate held them at 5 metres out and pressed them back.  It wasn’t until 14 minutes into the second half that Holland finally went back to basics and used his pace and agility to find space in the strong Harrogate line to score for the Students.

Credit to Harrogate who, after ten minutes of being camped in Loughborough’s 22, did maintain their composure, continuing to keep the ball in play while looking for gaps and finally fly half Richard Davies found the line narrowing the score to 12-21.

This was the start of the most intense twenty minutes for Loughborough supporters this season. In Harrogate’s 22 a pass was intercepted by Harrogate centre Samuel Bottomley and he ran the length of the pitch only to be caught by both Holland and Wilson in an excellent chase. Harrogate flanker Timothy Heaton rewarded his team mates for their strong defence in their 22 just minutes later with a try to bring the score to 17-21. Loughborough supporters breathed a sigh of relief as Davies’s conversion went just wide.

Man of the Match Joe Atkinson and his team defence held strong for the remaining minutes of the game and were even awarded a penalty which Hall converted from in front of the posts to increase the lead to 7 points. His final duty of the match was to kick the ball into touch to end the game to the delight of his team. The final score was a narrow win for the Students 17-24.

Coach Dave Morris congratulated his team on their hard-fought win and noted that the back line did an excellent job in defence, mentioning in particular Will Simpson, who was constantly there in both defence and attack. Although there were many positives to be taken away from the game such as; the scrums and the effort put into chasing kicks, there were many things which needed to be improved on as next week is a game in which mistakes cannot be made. Luctonians visit Loughborough to make a bid for second in the table.


Harrogate RFC:

Tries: Fraser, Davies, Heaton

Conversions: Davies

Loughborough Students RFC:

Tries: Kinloch, Holland

Conversions: Hall

Penalties: Hall 4

Harrogate RFC: Smithies, Ellison, Bottomley, Quarendon, Heylings, Davies, Wickham, Bergmanas, Yorke, Fraser, Brady J., Brady S., Maud, Heaton, Peacey

Replacements: Minikin, Wilson, Maycock, Innes, Harvey

Loughborough Students RFC: Holland, Dowsett, Kinloch, Simpson, Wilson, Hall, Weir, Cunnew, Crozier, Williams, McKenna, Conquest, Atkinson, Robinson, Silcock

Replacements: Allan, Rudland, Lamming, Bliss, Surman 


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