NORTH Premier Division side Harrogate showed their promotion credentials in beating Kirkby Lonsdale 28-10 on a sodden Rudding Lane pitch.

The Yorkshiremen made light work of the boggy conditions while Kirkby, fresh from beating runaway league leader Preston Grasshoppers, were unable to match their opponents.

Kirkby were short of forwards for this fixture and also, through illness, without the services of stand-off Dave Barton which created positional changes with centre Tom Pickthall going to ten as they kicked off left to right in front of the clubhouse.

In these conditions with players suitably ‘slimed up’, forward power was going to be a feature and so it proved when after early exchanges Harrogate had a scrum around ten metres from the Kirkby line. Kirkby held the scrum, Harrogate picked up at number eight and mauled towards the line eventually getting their loose head prop Charley Purkis-McEndoo over for the try.

The home stand-off Luke White nailed the conversion from wide out to make it 7-0 after six minutes and White’s excellent kicking from the tee and the hand were clearly an influential home game strategy demonstrating and exploiting local knowledge of the playing conditions.

Kirkby did manage to hit back with a try. A high tackle gave them a penalty, Scott Armstrong found touch and Kirkby attacked from the lineout. It was skipper Ben Walker who eventually jinked through to score but although Pickthall struck the ball well, the conversion shaved the wrong side of the post and it was 7-5 after fifteen minutes.

Harrogate were soon back on the Kirkby line and were held up as they surged over but were more successful from the five metre scrum which followed when their influential number seven Guy Coser crashed over near the corner flag. White again nailed the conversion from wide out to make it 14-5 with twenty two minutes played.

As half time approached it was the home side who had the last say of the half when sustained forward pressure close to the line yielded a second try for prop Purkis-McEndoo, this time under the posts, the conversion being no challenge to White and it was 21-5 when the whistle went.

Kirkby raised their game in the second half and created chances which could have been taken but came and went when attacking lineouts went astray or the scoring pass went loose.

They also had to deal with White’s tactical kicking, high kicks for his runners and long raking kicks getting the ball ‘down there’ and putting Kirkby on the defence in the mud and, to cap his excellent performance, White scored and converted Harrogate’s fourth try to extend their lead to 28-5 mid way through the half.

Kirkby did have a moment when number four Gareth Gore turned Harrogate over just outside their twenty two and flanker Stuart Storey was away on a run which evaded a couple of tackles and broke a couple more only to be held up over the line.

Harrogate defended the five metre scrum but sustained open field pressure by Kirkby and saw a home player receive a yellow card and Kirkby were able to exploit the extra man when winger Harry Huddleston broke clear and outpaced the cover to score an unconverted try in the corner to make the final score 28-10.

The second half was a somewhat dour affair with one try for each side but notable from Kirkby’s point of view by a first team opportunity for Will Brown. An emerging senior prospect from the Development Squad who came off the bench late on to make a very competent 1stXV appearance.