Ripon 1xv
Sat 02 Mar 2024  ·  Counties 2 Yorkshire
Huddersfield Laund Hill
Ripon Rugby Union Football Club
Ripon 1xv
Hudderfield Laund Hill vs Ripon - Saturday 2nd March 2024

Hudderfield Laund Hill vs Ripon - Saturday 2nd March 2024

Becky Naylor7 Mar - 09:42
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“In a field of their own…” - MATCH REPORT by BOB CHAMPION

With the game subject to an early pitch inspection due to persistent inclement weather, Ripon were glad of the opportunity to stretch their legs after the long coach journey to Huddersfield to notch up one of their more memorable league victories in recent weeks. Not quite at their best still, The Blues showed power where it was needed, pace and stamina, as well as a serious conviction to defend with passion and attack with purpose. Notching up their fifth league win on the trot and that all important try bonus point was just what was needed for The Blues to enter the final phase of this season’s league campaign.

The weather could be blamed for the inconsistencies experienced by both sides, but the hosts failed to play their advantageous home conditions on what must be the largest and possibly best-maintained pitch in Yorkshire. A solid display of set-piece strength and determination in attack, saw Ripon rack up the all-important five league point win away from home and sets them at third in the Counties 2 Yorkshire Division, with a recently unheard-of outside chance of being in the promotion battle to the next flight, with second placed Wath and current leaders North Ribblesdale.

One game at a time though and with just three league games left, there are no certainties and so the Ripon learning from this was to continue to keep the penalty count to a minimum and take scoring chances when they can. Conceding just seven penalties in the whole game, to the opposition’s eighteen and two yellow cards, showed just how important discipline is to the outcome of the game. Reading the referee perfectly was the order of the day and Skipper Barker’s statesmanship and composure was testament to his maturity and experience at the helm.

Selection saw just four changes from the last outing and so perhaps the most consistent side Ripon have fielded this season. Starting at the back, Will Barrett made a welcome return this week after a short lay-off, starting at Full Back before moving into the centres and giving another “Pinball Wizard” display of explosive running. Tom Graham occupied his usual position on the Wing and as well as taking credit for the second half bonus point fourth try, exerted a Zen calming influence when all around him was descending into chaos. The other Wing saw James “The Wolfman” Woolfenden back in the squad for another display of powerful and elusive running, with the first try of the game credited to him midway through the first half. Unfortunately, Wolfman’s second half line break was cruelly cut short by a badly placed worm cast, that floored him ten metres from scoring.

The Centres saw the second pairing of Liam Wood at Inside and Tom Senior at Outside; the latter crossing the line twice in the first half only to have one try denied by the poorly positioned Referee. The former creating the perfect defensive barrier with his long reach and sharp reflexes. Mikey Bray’s gamble of moving in to Number 10 for the afternoon paid off with dividends as he went on to score nine out of nine kicks with three penalties and five conversions. A fitting thumb to the nose of his former club mates at Huddersfield, who for some reason seemed out to get him all afternoon. The pristine shirt at the end of the game, fine testament to both Bray’s competence in control of the game and his team’s support. Max Marston completed the back line with another solid outing distributing with pinpoint precision and punching way above his weight in defence.

With an unchanged pack, again an almost unheard-of occurrence in recent years, The Blues attacked the set piece, gaining scrum dominance and line out supremacy, which in turn provided the stable base from which to launch several successful sorties into enemy territory. At Loose Head, “Onslow” Evans gave sixty minutes of his best, controlling the scrums and showing some seriously cool handywork in open play. Jordan “Dummy, Step and Go” Payne looked to be making the number two shirt his own, with a solid influence at scrum time and a predictable contribution in the loose, where the opposition never ceased to amaze, by buying his audacious show and go every time he got the ball and repeatedly wrong-footed everyone. Dom “Just One Metre” Dalby completed the trilogy at Tight Head, another tower of strength in the scrum and ever seeking the opportunities to break into second gear in possession. His second half try broke his previous running record by some 3mm.

In the second row, Iain Barker brought an air of calm to the at times heated exchanges, particularly when the opposition were becoming exercised by Ripon’s dominance in all areas. Tom Roebuck contributed hugely at line out time, stealing several opposition throw ins and covering some hard yards carrying. The now familiar back row saw James Pearce at Blind Side and as well as his dogged determination in open play, kept the Ripon line out ticking over with some precision throwing. Freddy Wharton ate up the ground at Open Side and with excellent back up play, sealed the game with the last try in the second half. What more can be said about Nick “Sad Yank” Perez, who hopefully wasn’t too traumatised by being associated with those north of the Mason-Dixon Line, other than he went on to yet another man of the match performance with some hard carries, harder tackling and even harder drinking. UTR, USA…

Starting strongly, in cool and damp conditions and some stuttering exchanges with the wet ball, Ripon were happily ahead at the end of the first quarter at 0 – 6 after two penalty goals from Bray,

Ripon’s first line crossing came at 22 minutes when Roebuck stole the host’s line out ball and with Marston feeding out quickly to the left, quick hands saw Woolfenden released to create his own space by smashing through three tackles and touching down after a 50-metre surge. Bray’s conversion made it 0 – 13.

Huddersfield fought back from the restart and from a series of pick and goes, ran in for a converted try at 28 minutes. Not taking things lying down, Ripon responded positively from the next restart and from a missed touch by Bray, the next score was out of the dream books. The counter kick found Barrett, who injected such pace and aggression to weave through some 50 metres close to touch and then up the middle. Roebuck was in support at the tackle to carry on to within a sniff of the line. Brought down short, Roebuck had the composure to time the offload perfectly and Tom Senior touched down. Bray’s conversion secured the comfortable half time lead of 7 – 20.

Within seconds of the second half restart, the hosts offended at the breakdown again and gifted Bray his third penalty goal for 7 – 23.
From the next kick off, The Blues were at it again with a strong run from Perez before feeding Barrett. Wood and Senior were engaged in making further progress and when stopped short of the line, Dom Dalby was on hand to pirouette over for Ripon’s third try. Bray’s conversion took it to 7 – 30 and the hosts starting to argue amongst themselves and further incur the wrath of the Referee with countless more penalties and in the space of 15 minutes, two yellow cards for tackle offences.

Ripon powered through the “power play” period to take further advantage and dominate proceedings. A text book blind side move from a scrum on the home 22 saw man of the match Perez pick from the base and make some 30 metres unchallenged before drawing the last defender and passing for Tom Graham to stroll over and gently touch down for Ripon’s fourth and bonus point try. Again Bray made no mistake and notched the score up to 7 – 37.

Less than five minutes later, another steady build up saw Graham and Barrett linking and going into contact. The ruck seemingly lost, was demolished by Dalby who picked up and powered on a couple of metres before feeding Bray. Barrett took over to make serious ground before feeding the ever-present Freddy Wharton to touch down for Ripon’s fifth. Bray took the score to 7 – 44 and seemingly out of sight.
Some last-minute frenetic activity by the hosts and some ill-timed defensive play by Ripon saw Huddersfield gain some initiative and after a series of tap and go penalties, reduced the deficit with a converted try for 14 – 44.

Ripon finished the stronger, with the hosts caving under pressure but no further scores forthcoming. A solid and creditable performance by Ripon and with three games left, as well as a cup run, who knows what this side is capable of?

Ripon take another break from league action this weekend in preparation for the next home game on 16th March versus Dinnington, kick off 3.00pm.

Match details

Match date

Sat 02 Mar 2024




Counties 2 Yorkshire

League position

Huddersfield Laund Hill
Team overview
Further reading

Team Sponsors

Main Club Sponsor - Bronco
Major Club Sponsor - Theakstons
Shirt Sponsor - Econ
Shirt Sponsor - Dales Water
Shirt Sponsor - Paul Blood Driving School
Shirt Sponsor - Direct Sports Lighting
Major Club Sponsor - Ripon Interiors
Shirt Sponsor - Work Based Pensions
Club Sponsor - K A Anderson
Fit for Rugby, Fit for Life - RipFit