1st XV Match Report - 16th September 2017
MATCH REPORT by BOB CHAMPION
Travelling to Halifax, full of hope to make the win account three from three, Ripon were disappointed to lose this game, which was essentially conceded in the first ten minutes.
Some minor tweaks in selection saw Rob Harrison return to the Wing after a break last season, to bring some pace in attack and aggression in defence and utility player Rob Nicholson back from injury and cricket, to bring some physicality wherever he played. Back from cricket duties also, Mark Spilman started on the bench with the aim of bringing in some much needed experience and go forward to the back line. The pack remained unchanged and with the experience of Wolloms on the bench, there was never going to be any doubt as to the set piece for securing first phase possession, or the back line in delivering the scores.
Unfortunately, the hosts ignored the talent and experience of the carefully crafted Ripon side and started much more strongly than anticipated. In a complete reversal of last week’s game, Ripon started very slowly and allowed the opposition to dominate the first few minutes of play to clock up a 14 – 0 lead in fewer minutes. Gradually becoming more composed, Ripon settled well into the game and eventually got an emphatic upper hand at the set piece. Ripon’s scrum, again reigned supreme, but did beg the question as to what advantage there was if the referee wasn’t going to penalise the opposition for repeated infringements. Despite the frequent appearance of the host’s Hooker’s head above all others, the early breaking of their back row and the obvious disengagement of the Croc’s front row in its entirety, no penalties were forthcoming and this had a profound effect on Ripon’s morale.
Elsewhere about the game, the hosts looked to exploit any weaknesses and on a bad tackling day, there were many. Ripon failed often to make the first contact count and so the gain line was broken frequently by the hosts and then simple offloads helped them to reach their five try count. It was however, certainly not a one-sided affair and Ripon frequently made use of their plentiful possession thought the likes of Findlay, who had an absolute stormer and Harrison, who attacked at pace and defended resolutely.
Other mentions go to Scull, for his control of the game as well as his cheeky breaks and additions to the scoreboard and Jonty Lister, whilst only on the pitch for perhaps half of the game due to a nose injury, for his control of the line out and pace around the field in attack and defence.
The hosts started the game with a deep kick, which was returned by Atkinson, who also missed touch to be returned again finally by the hosts to set up an attack through hands. Through great ball retention and fluid passing, Crossleyans to Ripon’s dismay, opened the scoring within two minutes with a converted try.
Ripon hit back from the restart to pressurise the hosts and from a handling error, were awarded a scrum put in. From a powerful break by Findlay, Ripon closed into the home territory and forced a penalty. With Scull’s kick to the right hand corner, the scene was set for Lister to do his stuff. Leaping, catching and then starting his own driving maul, Lister made a full five metres before being brought down. A hastily organised defence won the ball and cleared to touch, giving the visitors another line out put in. With the ball won, a quick move to the left saw a miscommunication in midfield and Crossleyans pounced to set up a devastating counter-attack. The following converted try to take the score to 14 – 0 within ten minutes was a wake-up call to Ripon and an encouragement to the hosts. Ripon however had other thoughts and built on their possession from the restart, with close runs through several phases. On reaching the home 22 metre line, Richard Scull saw an opening and with sleight of hand and hips, jinked through to chip the Full Back. As the home defender missed the ball completely, Rob Harrison appear at pace, to grubber the ball back towards the posts, for Scull to finish off the move he started with a try. Easily converting, Scull made the score a more respectable 14 – 7.
The hosts attacked strongly from the restart and within moments were pressing the Ripon line again. At 19 minutes the pressure paid and a penalty was conceded to take the score to 17 – 7. In the driving seat for a while, Crossleyans made attack after attack and gained good ground. Almost, but not quite in disarray, Ripon conceded a further converted try at 26 minutes to take the score to 24 – 7.
On the half hour mark, Ripon started to turn the tables and establish some real authority on the game. Leeming started making strong counter attacking runs, one of which just fell short of a try after a last moment knock on. Nicholson, Scull and Seal made strong runs and whilst frequently finding close support, the defence managed to snuff out any real impact. However, after 34 minutes, some fluent interplay between Scull and Seal, saw Josh Seal cross over for his first try of the season, with former Bradford & Bingley team mate Richard Scull adding the conversion to take the score to 24 – 14.
The hosts stepped up the pressure in the last few minutes and despite the defensive efforts of Findlay and Dom Butler, an off side offence by Ripon just before the final whistle, gave Crocs the opportunity to increase their lead through a penalty goal to make the half time score 27 – 14.
The second half saw Ripon dominate the scrums and fail to take any real advantage, both through unsupportive refereeing and communication breakdowns. Thus despite dominating most phases of play, Ripon conceded a further two tries and one conversion, to one converted try to run out plucky, but undeserved losers.
At 10 minutes into the second half, another Findlay turnover forced a penalty for Ripon to gain territory. From the touch kick the Ripon line out worked perfectly, for a well organised catch and drive. The ground gained suggested an easy run in, but a cruel interception in midfield saw a frantic break out by the hosts to increase their score to 34 – 14 with a further converted try. In a further cruel blow, another attack by Ripon was marred by a slightly misjudged chip through by Scull, which put the home Full Back into sufficient space to launch a thrilling counter attack. After a couple of tackles and secure recycles, the hosts added a further unconverted try to take the score to a daunting 39 – 14.
Undeterred, the visitors, despite losing Newby and Harrison with head wounds, bounced back and through sheer effort pressed into the home 22 metre area. Awarded a penalty for a defensive infringement, Ripon opted for the scrum. Euan Findlay made no mistake of his break from the base to crash over for Ripon’s third try of the day. With Scull adding the conversion, he made the closing score a more creditable 39 – 21.
Next Saturday, Ripon entertain local rivals Wetherby, who will definitely be keen on restoring their winning ways and Ripon looking to maintain a 100% unbeaten home record this season. Kick off 3.00pm, all support welcome.