Aire edged by Harrogate despite strong performance - Jonny Whitfield
By Si Davies
Aireborough’s five-try performance proved not to be enough as they were edged out in a 46-38 defeat to Harrogate Pythons on Saturday.
Si Davies’s hosts, who earned a bonus point for their improved attack, were ultimately undone by a flurry of ‘Gate tries early in the second half.
The visitors began stronger with a couple of decent attacks, spreading the ball wide before passing into touch. Scrum-half Gareth Drane then raced away with the ball but was met with a crunching tackle as his kick floated harmlessly across the dead ball line.
But Aire claimed the first try of the afternoon after poor discipline from the Pythons, who conceded a penalty when winger Josh Loughrey was pushed off the ball.
From the lineout, number eight Jonny Mackey crossed after squeezing through a gap, before fly-half Nick Holdsworth slotted the first of a few tricky touchline conversions.
Aire continued to dominate as Mackey and centre Jamie Sykes both threatened, but the Harrogate defence stood firm.
The visitors then levelled the scores as winger Oliver Wheatley, who claimed a brace of tries, weaved through several players for his first before Ned Rutty converted.
The game would follow a similar pattern until half time – Si Hill put Aire back in the lead before Harrogate added their second try.
Child crossed for Aire’s third try and with another expertly-taken touchline conversion by Holdsworth, the hosts were 21-14 to the good.
Despite Wheatley then claiming his second of the afternoon for the visitors, Aire would take a lead into the interval after a Holdsworth penalty kick.
HT – 24-19
Aire seemed to falter at the start of the second period, however, conceding four tries which ultimately put Harrogate out of reach.
Centre Max Sharp crossed on the right-hand side before Dan Bird got over, and Wheatley then set up a teammate as the visitors added to their try tally.
Aire then responded as Sykes got on the score sheet. The hosts flooded forward and the centre received an offload before battling with a defender to touch down in the corner.
But Gate’s final score, provided by Ross Fallenstein, put any hopes of a comeback to bed, even after Harley Stevenson-Cocks got over for Aire from a quick, weaving run.
FT – 38-46
MoM - This could have gone to a number of people however with an almost faultless kicking game from the tee, Nick Holdsworth was the deserved recipient of the award. Other notable mentions were from scrum half Stu Wilson, centre Jamie Sykes, and the back row pairing of Mikey Dolan and Jonny Mackey.