Harrogate Pythons 39 Skipton 26

SKIPTON went into this their final match of the season with high hopes of avenging an 18-12 loss in the Yorkshire Vase earlier in the season and a 27-7 home defeat in the league in December.

Unfortunately, the unavailability of several first team members led to Skipton fielding a changed and depleted squad for the Yorkshire Three encounter.

Nevertheless, the players who turned out, particularly the forwards, put up a gritty and brave display against an experienced and full-strength Pythons side.

Skipton welcomed three new players to the squad, Sam Fiddell (lock), Tom Allsop (prop) and Morgan Bibby (winger/scrum half). Due to the player shortage Skipton coach Craig Bartlett was a replacement.

Skipton kicked off into the wind and up the slight slope and following a good catch and take James Ackers was bundled into touch near the corner.

Following a lengthy wind assisted clearance kick by the Python's full back play switched to the Skipton 22 and the home got a penalty for Skipton holding on which their full back converted.

There followed a period of sustained pressure by the Skipton forwards which was undone when a loose pass in the backs was intercepted by the Pythons centre Max Baker for a try under the posts, which was duly converted.

Another good re-start kick by Hamish Munro down the right led to a try by Andy Wooler, the conversion attempt by Alex Baldwin just failing.

Several good pick-ups and drives by Rick and John Willsher eventually lead to Ryan Chafer scoring and Baldwin put in a good conversion kick against the wind.

Skipton now had a 12-10 lead but this was short lived as the Pythons centre broke again and scored hi s second try.

Following the restart another good break by him led to a maul on the Skipton line and which resulted in an unconverted try.

As half time approached a period of play from left to right led to another try by Pythons’ stand-off Liam Kernoghan to make it 25-12.

An unusual and welcome sight at half-time was the provision of cut oranges for the players on what was a dry and sunny day.

Following the restart, a period of play led to Harry McEneaney receiving only the second yellow card, of his career, but this was levelled up by one for a Pythons flanker for bringing down a rolling maul.

Ryan Binner replaced Allsop but the Pythons centre struck shortly afterwards from an attempted clearance kick by Andy Maclean.

Skipton's spirits were not dampened even with the score at 32-12 and Python's were to receive another three yellow cards at various stages for numerous misdemeanours.

From a good break from Chafer, Charlie Brown was on hand for a touchdown in the corner. Sam Fiddell replace Harry Maltby as Skipton continued to put pressure on the Pythons forwards and, after a series of penalties, Skipton were awarded a penalty try.

At 26-32 and ten minutes to go Allsop returned, replacing Chris Wright and play went from end to end eventually led to a converted Pythons try, caused by Skipton defensive error.

The veteran Brian Brocksom, who had played very well, was replaced by Morgan Bibby. Bartlett also entered the fray at centre, with Lee Shaw moving to the wing

The game ended with Skipton still exerting pressure on the Pythons but without reward.

The game was enjoyed by a fairly large crowd of Skipton supporters and the spirit shown by the team augers well for next season.

Following the match at the Skipton end of season dinner it was announced that Bartlett is to remain as coach next season, with Hamish Munro as club captain and Harry McEneaney as vice-captain.

Rick Willsher deservedly received the Player of the Year award.