U15 - Ribb 64 v 0 Blackburn
By Simon Drew
Another good performance...with the assistance of the U14s!
Match Report Sunday 3 March 2019
North Ribblesdale RUFC U15s vs Blackburn RUFC U15s
Played at Ramsgreave Drive, Blackburn
Gone was the balmy idyll of the mid-week late February heatwave as Ribb and Blackburn squared up on a drizzly Lancashire Sunday morn. The Blackburn kick was low, scuttling, and collected by Harris Dinsdale who took three paces into contact by four Blackburn chasers. The ball squirted backwards, and Ribb’s rapid backpedalling required a Freddie Spensley scoop up to inject a little forward momentum. Blackburn pressed with menace, but a high tackle on Freddie allowed Ribb to regroup with a penalty kicked to touch. Elliot Marklew threw to Harry Mathew, and the lineout closed in around him to drive forward and test the Blackburn pack’s strength. Ribb appeared to be the stronger, and when Leo Walkden dug the ball out to Freddie, the Ribb backs had a chance to test their counterparts too. Ollie Drew, starting at centre, took the ball into contact before Freddie kicked to the right to give Ben Coultherd a chance to dash from full back. The Ribb pack was quick to the breakdown, ensuring Ribb retained possession, and Max Sutcliffe gave Nelson Delailomaloma his first touch, Nelson offloading to his midfield partner Ollie to take into contact again. Joey Pratt, starting at flanker, took the ball forward next, and then on to Elliot, before a slight knock on gave the hosts a scrum just inside their 22m line. With some of the Ribb pack “playing up” an age level permission was sought, and granted, to contest scrums. Some very hesitant handling in the Blackburn backs afforded Ribb the opportunity to press, and Flynn Wake was almost able to steal possession, but for a slippery knock on. Scrum Blackburn. The Blackburn backs’ discomfort with the ball told again as scrum half Leo was able to harry the fly half, before a tackle-and-rip from the centre left him with the task of leaning over the line and touching down for the first try of the day (converted) to make it 0-7 to Ribb after 5 minutes.
Blackburn restarted the game with a mirror image of the first kick off. This time Thomas Pratt gathered and steamed into contact with relish. Leo fed number eight Adam Dunwell before Blackburn, on their toes, stole the ball but then spilled it instantly. Freddie looped a hospital ball to Nelson who, wisely, tipped it on for Flynn to try and do something with. Flynn was caught going backwards but, fortunately, a degree of forwards travel on the ball during the Blackburn spill brought play back for a Ribb scrum. The front row of Max, Elliot, and Matty Garth had a great angle and the ball was quick to emerge at the back of the scrum for Leo to give to Freddie. Freddie ran 10m and gave to Ben. Ben accelerated away but was caught on the wing by the cover tackle. Joey and Will Garnett were there instantly to ruck, and the secured ball was recycled to Adam to batter into Blackburn with. Adam had already taken four of the bigger Blackburn tacklers to stop him, so when Joey had a dip with the ball and took another four, the Blackburn defence was starting to look a little thin. Joey offloaded to Freddie, who shipped back inside to Harris, albeit a trifle forwards. Scrum Blackburn. Blackburn gamely hoisted a kick from between their own posts to chase but with Nelson and Flynn both back to cover there was little chance of success and a miscommunication resulted in a Blackburn knock forward. Scrum Ribb. As the scrum took shape, Joey and Harris on the flanks looked indomitable, crouched to supply power to the drive, poised with a threat to attack, and coiled to snare to anything Blackburn dare throw at them. As it was, Leo fed Freddie, Freddie passed to Nelson, and Nelson passed as a hot knife through “I Can’t Believe They’re Not Better” to sprint from half way and slide in try number two (converted). 0-14 after 10 minutes.
Blackburn’s restart was unchallenging (low and flat) and taken gladly by Joey who bulldozed to half way. Leo gave Callum Mathew (on for Freddie) the ball, and Adam took his pass and piled into contact. There was a growing regularity to the drives, with Elliot, Adam and Harry piling in for phase after phase of Ribb possession. Having sucked Blackburn players into the ruck area, Ribb then span the ball out down the backs for Hugh Gamble (on for Flynn) to dance niftily inside one player before turning and setting for another round of attrition. Whenever Blackburn did get to attack with the ball the Ribb backs’ flat and urgent advance forced the Blackburn runners back into the pack, where Ribb’s dominance could muscle back possession. On 15 minutes, a clear the decks kick from Blackburn found only Ben, who took the catch as if it were his destiny. A sidestep took care of the first chaser, and an acceleration into space took care of the second. Not being a greedy player, he one-handed an offload to Ollie, who span a lovely ball out to Hugh on the wing. Hugh accelerated past two before setting for the next attack. A promising two man overlap for Ribb was truncated due to a late tackle on Ollie. That the penalty failed to make touch and was caught and dotted by the Blackburn player behind his own try line is probably a good thing in the education of all the players. The 22m drop kick was poorly covered by Ribb (lesson 1) but also not drop kicked by Blackburn (lesson 2). The next effort had all the right bits, and led to a Blackburn scrum for a slight knock on in trying to gather a skittering ball. Ribb’s keenness in defence was amplified by Blackburn’s naivety in the backs, and Ribb advanced up the pitch. From a scrum for a forwards pass, Joey sprang up the blind side, but was well tackled just short of the line. Supporting, Leo then had a dig, but with similar results. Undeterred, Joey rucked the next ball and stretched over the line from 1m out (unconverted). 0-19 after 20 minutes.
The hosts resumed benevolence with a grubber to Matty, eagerly consumed. A major difference between the teams was passing. Ribb routinely had palms facing the ball about to be received, and an even swing across the body to move it on. Blackburn mostly were having to stoop to gather misplaced passes, leaving little option for what to do next other than struggle to retain control of the ball. Play was being moved confidently from left to right, keeping the game open and exciting. On the stroke of half time, a good piece of anticipation from Blackburn saw them intercept a lazy Ribb pass, but then go to ground and not release the ball when a better runner may have asked more of a question of the Ribb defence. The final act of the half was a reminder to ground the ball over the line safely when a smart backs move has engineered a try scoring opportunity. Half time 0-19 to Ribb.
Freddie took his only kick off of the game to open proceedings on the second half. The low end-over-end kick to the right was well taken by Blackburn, but the momentum they developed in the maul to ruck all came to nought as Thomas stole the ball and shifted it on to Will. Joey’s ball to Freddie gave Freddie time to look up and plant a lovely kick to touch 10m from the Blackburn try line. A good, safe lift in the lineout for Blackburn turned into quite a driving maul, Ribb losing 15m before they gained it all back by slow Blackburn passing to stationary targets in the backs giving Callum the chance to tackle the full back level with where the lineout was taken. Shortly after, Blackburn having attempted to kick away from trouble, the ball was through hands from Will, Harry, and Freddie, to Joey who scythed through the defence to score his second of the day between the posts (converted). 0-26 after 3 minutes of the second half.
Back on kick-off duty, Blackburn drilled the next one right for Harris to drop onto. Will rucked over and went round the outside before Tom Birkett-Bentley, on at flanker, had to tackle smartly to prevent a sneaky Blackburn incursion developing into anything else. Freddie’s quick thinking turned a stoop to catch a short pass into a side footed kicking opportunity, Callum and Flynn chasing well. A slight knock on produced a scrum to Blackburn, which resulted in the somewhat surreal call (and response) of “check 1-2” from the Blackburn pack. Parents may remember Henry Ramsay from Neighbours actor Craig McLachlan fronting a pop band in the late 1980s with the same name. Blackburn were still competing, but without as much cohesion as Ribb. Having been forced back over their own try line, Blackburn now faced a Ribb scrum on the 5m line. Joey, now supplying the power from number eight looked aghast as he ran open but Will took it blind. In a matter of moments, though, he’d corrected his trajectory and was able to gather from the ruck on the blind side and drive over the line (unconverted) for his third try of the match, with three Blackburn players for company. 0-31 after 11 minutes of the second half.
Blackburn’s range with the restarts was improving, but the next one was right down Tom’s throat. Tom took it well, and drove into contact, setting a good platform for Ribb. Freddie chipped over, then chipped again, but just too strongly for the ball to remain in play. 22m drop for Blackburn that squirted out of play, untouched, for a Ribb lineout on the 22. A super throw from Elliot was taken and shipped by Harris (in the absence of “the usual target” Harry) to Ollie. Some good rucking technique was displayed by both sides, Adam, Tom, and Elliot being the standouts for Ribb. Another improvised outside of the foot kick through from Freddie produced a good chase that Blackburn felt safer touching down over their line for another 22m drop. Harris fielded this, but a Blackburn player coming through from offside gave the penalty to Ribb. Joey tapped and ran, but the defence stood firm, and the Ribb player was shepherded out of play for a Blackburn lineout. From the lineout, a Blackburn carrier burrowed through and was away, but for a great tackle by Hugh. This small success reinvigorated Blackburn, who were now pounding eagerly into contact, and making good ground. It was eventually a combination of crunching tackle from Elliot, and pick up from Matty that regained the ball for Ribb. With the possession, Ribb moved the ball swiftly from left to right, and into the hands of Flynn. Flynn wound up the pace, but was caught by a well-timed tackle from a tracking full back. The supporting Nelson juggled the ball, and got it away to Callum, who passed through his legs to Adam. If anything, the effort to tackle Adam merely increased his speed toward the line and he slid in (converted) to make the score 0-38 after 18 minutes of the second half.
The next restart from Blackburn was shinned by Adam, and it was good to see that things were still competitive, even with a 38 point gap. Blackburn continued to press, but a risky long pass was well anticipated by Nelson, who was unfortunate to lose grip at the point of interception. Against the prevailing run of play, Blackburn were now stringing together phases. Ribb, though, were reasserting their dominance through the medium of tackling. Thomas, Harry, and Ollie demonstrating fine crunching ability. Joey’s growing value at rucks was clear, as he is a player who naturally seems to ruck over, then grab something on the ground for stability. From a secured ruck, Ribb moved the ball cleverly to the right, each man drawing his opposite number, until Flynn played the ball back inside to Ben for a well-deserved try (majestically converted) 0-45 after 24 minutes.
Blackburn, again, restarted to the waiting Tom. Tom shipped it to Joey, who carved though the middle, before hooking a pass that just missed its intended recipient. Callum kept it alive, and Ben chipped though for Nelson and Flynn to chase. A mistake by the Blackburn defender teed up Flynn to chuck it up into the air to himself, before catching it and grounding it (unconverted) for 0-50 after 26 minutes of the second half.
A change of kicker failed to produce a change of fortune for Blackburn. Although the kick was, by many measures, better (higher, faster, further) it was caught by Joey. Joey ran past the entire team (handing off one) for a converted try to bring up 0-57 after 28 minutes.
There was just time for one more restart. This one was caught well by Thomas. The pendulum of ownership swung back and forth, before Thomas and Joey combined to win it for Ribb. The ball to Freddie led to a kick though, Ben chasing and gaining ground for Ribb in the tackle. Ollie followed up by rucking over and winning the ball. Nelson took responsibility, ran and dummied well, but was wrapped in a tackle. A clearance kick from Blackburn was gathered in retreat by Callum, who returned and fed Ollie. Ollie fed Freddie, and Freddie fed Nelson. Nelson popped inside to Ollie, and Ollie dotted down and converted for a final score of 0-64.
Man of the match, Joey Pratt.