Yarnbury 3rd's v North Ribblesdale
match report Joe Stafford
The streak is over.
The Rifles’ tremendous home form has finally come to an end at the hands of a determined North Ribbs outfit (although the game wasn’t actually played on a Yarnbury pitch, sooooooooo ???..............).
Having not lost at home so far this season it was fair to say that yet again confidence was high among the home side. Due to the 1st XV and 2nd XV also being at home, it meant the 3rds took the short trip across the road to the pitch at Trinity for their encounter with North Ribbs.
Keen to gain an early foothold in the game and assert their dominance Yarnbury piled on the pressure in the away side 22. Nobody was keener than the Rifles’ co-captain Dan ‘Stevo’ Stephenson who was eager to see what his naughty new pair of boots could do - his question was answered very quickly in the form of two quick tries. The first coming as a result of some strong forward running with Denton and May to the fore who sucked defenders in and created space out wide, allowing the ball to be distributed along the line resulting in Stevo going over in the corner; the kick was converted by no.10 Steve Riley.
The 2nd try came as a result of a brilliant dink over by Barber which was claimed by Stevo who again went over in the corner however the conversion was pushed wide. Despite playing hooker Stevo took it upon himself to do the job of the wingers as well - true captain, leading by example.....
With it initially looking like it could be a straight forward afternoon for the Rifles after scoring two early tries, the home side became complacent allowing North Ribbs to break a few tackles and go in under the posts meaning it became 12-7.
Despite this Yarnbury went straight back down to the other end of the field and after some strong pick and go’s and runners off 9, the pack eventually trundled over in either the form of Rob Ranton, Steve May or Chris Denton (???????); Riley again converted.
Despite Yarnbury’s two try cushion, the away side came quick out of the blocks with their big forward runners going off the base of the ruck making yard after yard, inevitably resulting in a try. Minutes later the same method was used to crash over for another in an extremely short period.
It was now Yarnbury’s turn to attack and after a few quick breaks had great field position in the top right corner of the pitch however a relentless defence made it difficult to cross the whitewash and eventually knocked the ball on leading to a Ribbs scrum on the 5m. The opposition 10 was set to exit so a quick break was needed from the Yarnbury flankers to go and put pressure on the fly half. Academy captain and open-side flanker Rossagh Daly decided using his arms to charge it down was overrated and instead opted for using his face and to his credit, his unorthodox technique worked allowing him to block the kick and flop on the ball to score - kick was converted. This also marked Daly’s first try for the 3rds who, by all accounts, is ecstatic to do his two-pint pot next week.
The next 20mins saw the Rifles camped on their try line defending wave after wave of attack with academy players Roebuck, Newstead and Wishart setting the tone for defence however as Yarnbury began to fatigue it meant a tackle was missed which was all Ribbs needed and went over to score.
With the scores level at 26-26 and just minutes to go, Yarnbury surged forward to try and gain the try that would put the game to bed and after some strong running by centre Steve Morton, he was able to ship it on to Stevo who tipped it onto Stafford who managed to ‘touchdown’ in the corner - the conversion right on the touch line was put wide, so left the score 31-26 in favour of the home side.
After claiming the kickoff and receiving a penalty it looked as if Yarnbury had secured the win and maintained their great home form however instead of opting to kick for touch, the referee took Yarnbury’s first call which was a scrum due to confusion between the players and too many voices on the pitch. In an effort to play out from the back and run down the clock, the ball was turned over and after some good footwork from the opposition fly half, managed to score under the posts and convert the kick - a bitterly disappointing end to a very close game.
After dishing out many victories similar to this throughout the season, it was Yarnbury’s turn to be on the receiving end. However the Rifles still secured the bonus points and because Morley didn’t have a game this week it meant Yarnbury moved up to the top of the table, two points clear of Morley.
FT = 33-31 North Ribblesdale
Tries = Stephenson x2, Denton or Ranton or May?, Daly, Stafford
MOTM = Stafford