OTLEY’S director of rugby Peter Clegg has called Harrogate captain Jake Brady “naive in the extreme” for his comments in their local press that concentrated Cross Green minds ahead of their crucial National League Two North derby at Rudding Lane last Saturday.

The visitors went into the game still needing a point from their last two matches to be mathematically safe (they host play-off chasing Sale on Saturday), while Harrogate’s position was much more perilous as they probably needed two victories.

After initially querying Otley’s motives for conceding their Yorkshire Cup semi-final at Sheffield Tigers the previous weekend (when Harrogate were beating Hull in the other semi-final), calling their decision “massively disrespectful to what is a famous old competition”, Brady said: “It’s also fuelled the flames ahead of what was already a big game this weekend.

“This makes us even more determined to go out and do a job on Otley.”

He added: “I expect us to win the game. We’ve had the upper hand in recent years and they haven’t got a result at Rudding Lane for a long time.

"I’m sure that’s playing on the mind of their players and I want them to know that we are going to beat them again this time.

“It’s a local derby, so there’s always plenty of emotion involved, but there’s extra spice on this occasion.”

Clegg said of Brady: “His comments were naive in the extreme. I could not believe them, and the lads were not very happy.

“The lads didn’t need more fuelling after that – six of our players were there at 1.15pm (kick-off was 3pm) – and it was more a case of calming them down than revving them up as they couldn’t wait to get at it.

"And as for us not having won at Rudding Lane for a long time, we have only played there once, and that was when they officially opened the ground at the start of last season!”

The upshot was that Otley triumphed 35-15 to confirm their safety, while Sheffield Tigers’ 49-22 home victory over South Leicester put them a point above Harrogate and means that Tigers will be safe if they win at Luctonians.

Harrogate, meanwhile, need a five-point win at Hinckley, as well as hoping that Tigers and Worthing (home to relegated Exmouth in National League Two South) both fail.

Otley will be without flanker Sam Hudson, who is involved with North Under-20s, against Sale.

Having come so close to handing champions Caldy only their second defeat of the season, what better way is there for Wharfedale to end their league programme on Saturday than by notching their first away win of the campaign?

The Greens are at bottom-of-the-table Preston Grasshoppers, who have already been relegated.

However, Hoppers, who have just announced Fylde's Paul Arnold as player-head coach. have beaten Hinckley, Sheffield Tigers and Otley at Lightfoot Green.

They have also pushed South Leicester and Scunthorpe close there, as well as defeating the Dalesmen 20-12 at The Avenue on the opening day of the season.

Wharfedale, who are only training once this week (tonight) and have no injuries other than prop Jordon Poole, welcome back Tom Barrett at fly half, which means that Jamie Guy reverts to centre at the expense of Huw Morgan, who therefore doesn't have to travel up from London.

Scott Jordan is on the wing, while Adam Howard starts at prop in place of Toms Asejevs, who is on international duty with Latvia.

Jimmy Meehan is a front-row replacement as Poole is out with the dislocated shoulder that he suffered last weekend against Caldy. Ralph Wellock joins him on the bench.

Greens' head coach James Doherty said: "I am really looking forward to seeing our midfield of Barrett, Guy and James Tincknell, who is getting back to his best, as well as the back row of Rob Baldwin, Lewis Wilson and Josh Burridge.

"The back row were outstanding against Caldy – in fact the whole team were outstanding – and we should have won.

"Harry Bullough was very unlucky to have a try ruled out for a forward pass, but the good thing is that we proved that we can play well against a top side."

Wharfedale (at Preston Grasshoppers): Harry Bullough; Josh Prell, James Tincknell, Jamie Guy, Scott Jordan; Tom Barrett, Phil Woodhead; Joe Altham, Dan Stockdale, Adam Howard, Richard Rhodes, George Hedgley, Rob Baldwin (captain), Lewis Wilson, Josh Burridge. Replacements: Ian Larkin, Jimmy Meehan, Simon Borrill, Chris Swainson, Ralph Wellock..