Hereford Harriers have started their debut campaign in the Premiership division of Wheelchair Rugby League. Their first game was a very difficult and challenging start to a tough season ahead. They travelled up to Yorkshire to face the current holders of this elite division, Halifax.
Determined not to let the opponents or the occasion overwhelm them, they started off the match as if it was just another game in the calendar. Harriers starting five was full of skill and experience. Halifax started very strongly, and it didn’t take long to unlock the normally solid Hereford defence, with England skipper Jack Brown showing tremendous chair control, and weaved through to score in the corner. Halifax scored three more tries, without response, but the Harriers were putting together some well worked set plays in the first half, and started closing the gap that the dominant northern side had created. Harriers vice-captain Gary Preece took their tally to double figures with a superb drop goal from 10 meters out. A drop goal in wheelchair rugby requires the same technique as a drop goal in the running game. A player must drop the ball so it touches the floor once, and then punch the ball between the posts, as opposed to kicking it. Hereford took a respectful, Halifax 44 – 28 Harriers, deficit into the halfway stage.
Pictured: Hereford Harriers, in the new strip sponsored by Fluidmaster.
In the early stages of the second half, the Harriers suffered a major blow, when penalty and conversion kicker Gary Preece collided with one of the opposition, when attempting to put the ball down for a try. He was thrown out of his chair and landed awkwardly and fractured his wrist, putting him out of the rest of the game, and maybe the rest of the season. Hereford battled on and played some great rugby, and showed why they had been promoted to the top flight, and Halifax showed why they are the current premiership champions. At full time the scoreboard showed Halifax 76 – 38 Hereford Harriers.
The Harriers skipper Geraint Price said: ‘We were expecting to lose our opening game to the current title holders, but our main aim was to compete with the best in the country, do ourselves proud, and learn a lot throughout the game, so we can take it back to our training ground, and improve our own offence and defence strategies.”
Harriers’ following fixture was their first home game of the season, in which they welcomed the Argonauts from Dartford. Harriers went off to a flying start and showed some quick, safe hands and scored the first try in the corner. They used their home advantage well, and soon opened up a slight gap and got the home supporters cheering. Hereford showed some great class and determination, and took a 20 point lead into the interval. The second half didn’t disappoint the home crowd or their main sponsor, Fluidmaster.
The Argonauts scored some very well worked tries of their own, but the Harriers kept up the pressure for the full 40 minutes of the second half, and won their first ever Premiership game. Currently mid table after two games, their next match will be away to the mighty Leeds Rhinos.
Three of the Hereford Harriers were selected to represent Wales in the Rugby League Celtic Cup in Halifax last month. Phil Davies, Alan Caron and Scotty Trigg-Turner, along with the Hereford head coach, Lyndon Price who was selected as Wales’ assistant coach. The Celtic Cup is for Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Wales totally dominated the tournament, beating Ireland by 60 points and Scotland by 84 points, and lifted the trophy for the 4th consecutive year.
Pictured: Wales Celtic Cup. Front row, left to right: Scotty Trigg-Turner, Lyndon Price, Alan Caron. Back row: Phil Davies.
Hereford Harriers Wheelchair Rugby Club train at Hereford Leisure Centre. The club welcomes new members male or female, able-bodied or disabled, of any age and fitness level. Tel: 07957 949 224
Facebook: Hereford Harriers Wheelchair Rugby Club
Fluidmaster is the main sponsor of the Hereford Harriers. Andy Holley is employed by Fluidmaster, based in Hereford.
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Previously gymnastics coach, massage therapist and personal trainer with 20 years of experience. Former gymnast and dancer.