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1st XV - Match centre

Tupton 2nd XV
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
Full time
L Brant, L Thompson, W Evans, M Ledger
L Porter (2), W Evans
L Porter
Sat 18 Apr 13:00 - Friendly

Rhinos join the celebrations as Tupton open their new ground

Rhinos played a full part in the celebrations for Tupton opening their new club house in this 60-29 defeat

Rhinos were honoured to accept Tupton's invitation to join them in the opening of their impressive new clubhouse facilities. With Ripley ending their playing days in May, this was a fitting game against opponents who, across the 19 seasons of Rhino rugby, the maroons had shared enmity, tragedy and fun with. And who were the runners-up in Ripley's successful cup final campaign of four years ago.

Skipper Will Evans pulled out the stops to find a full side of players donning the maroon for the lunchtime kick off; so well in fact he realised he had one extra player and donned the substitutes jersey with prop Craig Culshaw talking over the reins. With the sun shining and the Rhino emblazoned on their chests again the visitor team were keen to play a full part in the celebration game in front of a healthy crowd at the Recreation Ground.

The lack of training and playing time together showed early on, with Rhinos looking rusty. Strong carries and cover defence by returning scrum half Dan Hardy provided resistance to the powerful running of the hosts but an opening try was inevitable. Despite struggling to keep hold of the very dry ball on several occasions Tupton duly did open the scoring, touching down close to the posts to enable a simple conversion. Undeterred Rhinos focused on gaining territory with back row Simon Brown and a resurgent Carl Whitely leading carries into the opposition 22 but with greater rewards beckoning, Rhinos turned over possession too many times, allowing Tupton to begin adding to their try tally.

Rhinos were sticking to a plan of moving the ball quickly and keeping enjoyment in the game, although it was a more prosaic penalty kick at goal that allowed them to register their first points on the game, fly half Liam Porter notching a fine kick.

With a foothold in the game Rhinos were buoyed and looked for more. In the face of more points from Tupton, Rhinos tapped a quick penalty and headed for the corner with Lee Brant coming up with the score, Porter adding the extras.

As the first half drew towards the close, Rhinos put together one of the best pieces of handling all afternoon; a quick tap penalty saw the initial break and as the ball was spread across the pitch, winger Luke Thompson timed his support run to perfection to take the pop pass, open his legs, show his class and hand off the would-be tackler for a great score in the corner. Despite being behind on the scoreboard Rhinos had come together well and were now playing some enjoyable and impressive rugby. The half time talk was for more of the same, with particular focus on enjoyment, both for Rhinos and an expectant crowd.

Both sides continued to play in the same vein as the second half got underway. Ripley were by now showing some coherence, although the additional recent playing experience of the hosts ensured that they had the upper hand for large periods of the game.

Having warmed up across the pitch, Rhinos' defence was now looking more solid, with a higher success rate in tackles, even against some sizeable opponents. At full back Mark Parkin was making a valiant effort to stop many incursions towards the line, with centre Adam Parr getting through a good deal of work in support.

Ripley managed to spend periods of time inside the opposition 22 throughout the second half, picking up an intercept try from Evans, which was duly converted by Porter.

Despite the best efforts of Evans, Rhinos also established two much vaunted 14-man line-outs, which in turn very nearly resulted in tries for both teams.

Although Tupton added regularly to their own total, the last word went to Ripley with a try under posts from Matt Ledger. The conversion was added by Evans from under the nose of Culshaw to leave the final score 60-29 to the hosts.

This was a fine display of what has made Ripley Rhino rugby so enjoyable over many years and why Tupton were keen to involve the maroons in this celebration. Rugby came away the winner, although Tupton and their new facilities were a fine second. All at Rhinos wish them well in their new home.

Prop and part-time captain Craig Culshaw won the BAB Plumbing & Heating man of the match award from his team mates. Ripley will hope to take this expansive game of enjoyable rugby into their final game; a midweek friendly against local rivals Belper once the black and whites have negotiated their three cup finals.

MATCH REPORT written by Will Evans

Craig Culshaw

Player of the Match

Craig Culshaw

Key moments

16:00
Penalty Liam Porter kicks a penalty for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
29:00
Try Lee Brant scores for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
30:00
Conversion Liam Porter kicks a conversion for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
39:00
Try Luke Thompson scores for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
61:00
Try Will Evans scores for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
62:00
Conversion Liam Porter kicks a conversion for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
79:00
Try Matt Ledger scores for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
80:00
Conversion Will Evans kicks a conversion for Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
Replay game

As it happened

  • Tupton 2nd XV
  • Ripley Rhinos 1st XV
  • 0
  • Liam Porter Penalty 16:00'
  • Lee Brant Try 29:00'
  • Liam Porter Conversion 30:00'
  • Luke Thompson Try 39:00'
  • Will Evans Sub On 40:00'
  • Nick Maskew Sub Off 40:00'
  • Will Evans Try 61:00'
  • Liam Porter Conversion 62:00'
  • Matt Ledger Try 79:00'
  • Will Evans Conversion 80:00'

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