Rolls Royce 2nd XV 33-10 Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
Ripley began their season with a friendly against Rolls Royce 2nd XV at Moor Lane
Ripley began their season with a friendly against Rolls Royce 2nd XV at Moor Lane. Skipper Will Evans made only his second appearance of 2014 and was pleased to welcome Gareth Roebuck back to the side and Paul Wilkinson coming in for an assured debut.
The home side had a strong and well-drilled team from the start. They had the edge in the initial scrums, though it was even in the lineout with both teams secure on their own ball. Loose head prop Craig Culshaw suffered an early injury that then saw the remaining scrums move to uncontested. This probably benefitted both sides as it allowed for a more flowing match and a chance to dust off the skills that had been kept in abeyance during the summer.
The visitors tried to defend but dropped off too many first-up tackles that were too high and Royce's exploited this to force possession deep in the Ripley 22 and ultimately scored after a series of sustained attacks.
Evans' maroons then had a very poor fifteen minutes where they gave the home side too much space and their pacey backline exploited it as they ran in three more tries to move 26-0 ahead. In the ten minutes running up to halftime, Ripley finally showed some cohesion with outside centre Lee Rowland making good yards and openside flanker Liam Porter picking great support lines of running to back him up.
The captain's interval talk was all about supporting the man in attack and working more as a unit and the team took this on board in the second period. Blindside flanker Steve Lowe made some cracking tackles to set the scene and second rows Sam Smith & Simon Midgley both did a lot of hard graft to turn over the ball in contact and force penalties.
The visiting side changed their personnel to look more like the team Ripley were familiar with and the game was a much-closer affair. Rowland, Porter and winger Roebuck all made good yards on the burst and Evans distribution from hand was outstanding in the second half.
Due reward was obtained with half an hour to go when Porter powered through to be hauled down just short of the line, with No. 8 Zeique Robinson on hand to crash over from short range for the try.
Ripley showed good continuity and also strong defence to keep Royce's from the line. This slipped once as the home side's centres again had too much space to show their pace and went 33-5 in the lead.
Ripley's ever-improving display saw them score again before the end. Smith forced a penalty after contesting a ruck. Prop Dave Trubee took a quick tap and Evans and his fellow backs showed good handling to put replacement winger Guy Britton over the line to score his first try for the club.
When the final whistle came, the home side had won 33-10. Ripley were disjointed and lacking cohesion in the first half, and rectified this with a strong second half display that gives them plenty of positives for the rest of the season. Both teams played some excellent rugby in an even-tempered and well refereed game. Liam Porter's all-round performance saw him awarded the BAB Plumbing & Heating man of the match award from his team mates.
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