U15s show their progress

Harrogate Under-15s......................12

Pocklington Under-15s................... 36

It is difficult to measure progress in a team sport like rugby except by results, and even then there is the possibility that the opposition used as a yardstick has deteriorated over the season. That possibility becomes improbable if the opposition has just gained a place in the Yorkshire Cup Final, as was the case for Harrogate.

Harrogate Under-15s......................12

Pocklington Under-15s................... 36

It is difficult to measure progress in a team sport like rugby except by results, and even then there is the possibility that the opposition used as a yardstick has deteriorated over the season. That possibility becomes improbable if the opposition has just gained a place in the Yorkshire Cup Final, as was the case for Harrogate.

Sunday’s opposition had won by 59 points to 19 at Percy Road earlier in the season, so this fixture afforded the visitors an opportunity to show how far they had come over the season, and they did not disappoint. In a first half of fast, expansive, adventurous rugby, playing up a pronounced slope, Pocklington blitzed their hosts to take a 24-0 lead at half time.

Building up early pressure in the first half, the visitors recycled well and John Soanes burst through for the first score, with James Hanley converting. Harrogate responded immediately, taking the ball deep into the 22 but, when they chipped ahead, the visitors were first to the ball in the in-goal area.

Hanley took the 22 drop out quickly, before the home defence could organise, and George Alport followed up the kick to drag the full-back into touch just outside the Harrogate 22. As the pressure mounted again, Jack Lakin, struggling manfully with flu (or struggling with man-flu), forced his way over for the try, leaving the field shortly afterwards to return to his sick-bed.

Hanley kicked ahead and, with the ball regained, slick hands sent Charlie Sleigh away for a try in the corner. Hanley put over a great conversion from out wide on the left. The final score of the half, though, was the pick of the bunch as Charlie Sleigh and Tom Hesmonhalgh worked their way up the field with an interchange of off-loads.

George Alport joined in the fun and with an audacious off-load out the back, a la Gregor Townsend, released Sleigh for a score that was applauded by both sets of coaches and spectators. The Claro Road outfit were clearly given a flea in their collective ear by the coaches, and came out fired up for the second half, putting heavy forward pressure on the Pocklington line.

The visitors held out gamely, but eventually conceded in the corner. Pocklington snuffed out the possibility of a comeback in their next attack when a clearance kick under pressure from Harrogate landed in the arms of James Glew, who turned the after-burners on and scorched past the flailing home tacklers.

Hanley’s conversion crept over the posts. The visitors increased their lead still further when the hosts failed to clear their lines and Soanes ran the ball back at them. The final score came in bizarre fashion when a hopeful kick ahead from Harrogate bounced in front of the posts and landed on top of the crossbar, running for a moment along the length of the bar, wrong-footing the visiting full-back and dropping into the grateful hands of the on-rushing Harrogate player.

Thus Pocklington’s run of remarkable results, and more importantly performances, continues and confidence is retained going into the Yorkshire Plate final in two weeks time.