Rugby Union: Morley net bonus but still lose out to Sandal

Morley's Ollie Flegg fends off Sandal's James Stewart.
Morley's Ollie Flegg fends off Sandal's James Stewart.
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Morley picked up double bonus points and pushed league leaders Sandal all the way but finally went down 23-20.

The Maroons set the tone early on when scrum-half Sean Dadswell went over but three penalties edged Sandal in front at the break. The visitors stretched their lead to 16-5 with a converted try but Morley hit back with two tries from winger Tom Clough.

A second Sandal try put them back in command but Morley winger Andy Funnell raced in out wide to make sure of two deserved points.

For the second week, Harrogate lost by a single point in spite of scoring three tries to visiting Broadstreet’s single penalty try. It finished 22-21.

The penalty count weighed heavily against Harrogate while Ben Palmer’s reliable kicking kept Broadstreet in contention throughout the match. Harrogate attacked from the start and stand-off Mike Aspinall took a difficult pass off his bootlaces to feed James Morland who scored in the left corner. Joe Rowntree’s attempted touchline conversion bounced back into play off the upright. A crunching Andy Boyde tackle ended a Broadstreet attempt to run out of defence. No8 Willem Enslin was then held up just short of the line with support outside him calling for the ball. The pressure continued with another driving maul and, when Broadstreet went off side, Rowntree’s penalty extended the home lead.

Broadstreet were still very much on the defensive but Harrogate were penalised for holding and went offside from the subsequent Broadstreet line-out to give Palmer his first successful penalty.

The home scrum dominated at this stage and drove strongly from five metres out for scrum-half, Danny Matthews, to score.

An adjudged home scrum offence then gave Broadstreet another penalty and Palmer’s kick kept them within reach of Harrogate. Play was almost entirely in the Broadstreet half but a Harrogate offside offence let Palmer edge the Broadstreet score still closer to make it 13-9 at half-time.

The second half started with powerful Harrogate forward drives from Enslin, Jake Brady and Tom Harvey. More driving mauls followed and, in his 90th Harrogate first-team game, Tom Harvey drove over for his maiden try. This put Harrogate nine points ahead but another penalty from Palmer brought Broadstreet back within touching distance. A Broadstreet offside offence led to Rowntree extending the home lead but Harrogate were then penalised for crossing in what was almost Broadstreet’s first visit into the home 22. Street set up driving mauls and were awarded a penalty try which also resulted in a yellow card for Boyde. The conversion gave Broadstreet their single point lead and was the final score of the match.

Defences were on top in Wharfedale’s National 1 encounter with Esher that finished 8-6 to the hosts thanks to a Dan Solomi try and a Jamie Guy penalty to two Ian Cross penalties.