Keighley RUFC v North Ribblesdale
Back on friendly terms, great competitive game against our old rivals North Ribblesdale
Report by: Andrew Heys
This week Keighley U16's welcomed North Ribb to Rose Cottage in another local derby. This fixture has always been fiery and fiercely contested and it wasn’t going to be any different even though the visitors had travelled with 14.
Keighley again with nearly a full strength side, missing Charlie Menzies and Harry Worstead to shoulder injuries and concussion respectively and flying winger Amrit Sharma, who was unavailable this weekend.
This meant Keighley had enough to lend North Ribb one and play 15 vs 15 with Connor Pennington playing for the opposition in the first half, undoubtedly having a stormer in the first half putting his body on the line for the visitors.
Keighley was defending the club house to start the game off, this is always a task each team at the club thrive on and was something the lads also enjoy doing.
Keighley received the kick off and showed their intention from the off, using forwards Ethan Spencer, Max Wild and Louis Day to drive the opposition back, before shipping the ball to the speedsters on the wings.
Some great link play between forwards and backs drove the home side deep into North Ribb territory and this should have leant to the first points of the game with Spencer going on one of his trademark runs straight at the Ribb defence. Drawing players in, the ball was shipped wide and with the difficult part of drawing the last man done all Joey Van Suilichem had to do was give the simple pass but winger Lewis Hutchinson was a little over eager and over shot the ball leaving it behind and resulting in a knock on.
Going into this match the Keighley scrum had been untested so we didn’t know what to expect on this front and the Keighley pack held up ok. With the back row unit of Spencer, Wild and Stephens quick off the back of the scrum putting the home side under pressure. Captain Denon Sokee leading from the front thwarting any attacking play at source and on this occasion he was supported by fly half Kristian Bealey-Kay who plays like an open side flanker straight over the ball.
Penalty – Keighley inside the Ribb 22. The ball was kept close from the resulting penalty and after a few phases, with big carries from Day and Adam Wurzal supported by front row duo of Kieran Watts and Sam Mortimer, Keighley was inches away. Where some teams would have kept the ball in the forward Max Duncan saw a space out wide and shipped the ball to Bealey-Kay with Sokee on a short line he crashed over for a well taken try. Converted in difficult conditions by Bealey-Kay.
The home side kept applying the pressure and again their attack was in a potent mood, carving their way through the defence, Bradley Powell at full back and winger Arron Hands having a great game added extra potency to the attack. The North Ribb defence was doing their best to hold firm and they did for 10minutes until once more Sokee went barraging over the line. Conversion missed.
The away side, to their credit, came fighting back, driving forward through their two key forwards battered into the home sides defence but they didn’t waiver, holding firm, not willing to let them score. North Ribb’s forwards slightly had the upper hand for a few minutes giving their backs a chance to show what they could do but again they didn’t get anywhere thanks to big hits from Hutchinson, Sokee and Bealey-Kay. This gave the home side chance to break once more with Hands flying down the wing and unlucky to be dragged down by a last ditch tackle. The ball was recycled by the impressive Duncan who was working tirelessly to keep his starting spot at scrum half with live wire Kyle Sharp snapping at his heels. The ball was worked wide and once more Spencer found half a gap to crash over. Converted by Bealey-Kay.
Once more the away side came fighting back, lead well by their number 8 who crashed over for a well-deserved try.
Keighley 19 North Ribb 7
At half time Sharp replaced Duncan and Max Wild exited the pitch due to an injury. Pennington and Powell swapped shirts with Powell now playing for North Ribb. The away side lost their influential prop to a shoulder injury, with everyone hoping it was nothing too serious. This meant Duncan also went to play for the away side.
Sokee was given the ball on the outside shoulder of the last man and went racing down the wing, with Powell left to beat he put his body on the line with Sokee running straight over his attempted tackle and looking likely to complete his hat trick but for an incredible last ditch tackle by Duncan who chopped his Captain down, with loud applause from both sets of fans who appreciated the effort made by both load players.
The ball was worked wide once more to Hutchinson, who again was left reaching for a poor pass. Looking like Keighley had wasted another chance to score the ref, who had a good game, brought play back for a penalty to the home side on the five meter line.
Here come the big ball carriers and the team selected to send big prop, Louis Day, in to score his first try for the team but once more he was thwarted by an excellent tackle from the much smaller Duncan, who stopped two tries in the space of 5 minutes for the away side.
Keighley was dominating now and charged back at the away side with the ball being worked wide it was time for Van Suilichem to score. Converted.
North Ribb came back once more with a far superior kicking game and bettering the Keighley back row at the break down, they scored a well taken try by their captain who collected his second of the day.
Keighley again on the front foot, a massive carry by Watts down the centre of the field, Wurzal picked and went blind charging 60 meters, again being turned over at the break down. The North Ribb clearance kick was sliced and landed in the arms of Hands, who with a burst of speed shrugged off would be tackles to score his first try in 2 years. Conversion missed.
Keighley didn’t let up in attack or defence but was thwarted at the breakdown all game, the first time it has happened this season.
Keeping the defence guessing Sharp kept sniping and looking for gaps around the breakdown but when needed to supplied a good ball to Bealey-Kay who once more found his captain tight to his shoulder, who barged over for his hat-trick and topped a tremendous individual display. Converted by Bealey-Kay.
North Ribb, not to let the home side have the final word, worked up field and their number 8 and captain scored his third try of the day to score his hat-trick.
Keighley 38 North Ribb 17
This was Keighley third win from four games in what has started as a tremendous season so far.
One special mention had to be when Captain Denon Sokee unselfishly sacrificed himself to the bench when North Ribb lost another player to injury.
The crowd on the day was 30+ and they were certainly treated to a game full of attacking flair and tireless work in defence. Both squads can be happy with their performance but on the day Keighley were the better side.
On to next weekend, when we welcome Heath to Rose Cottage. This fixture is still relatively new with both sides collecting a win last season.