North Ribblesdale 8Pts Wheatley Hills 5Pts
By Richard Green
Jonny Moore sets up winning try for Liam Wallbank as Ribblesdale edge home in a scrappy game.
Report by Andrew Mills.
NORTH Ribblesdale put in a gritty determined second half performance to beat Wheatley Hills 8-5 in poor conditions at Grove Park on Saturday.
Ribb were changed at half back after last week's injury to scrum half Peter Cook, who may take some time to heal.
Nathan Harding played scrum half and had a good game. Ribb also had Jim Tunney bringing welcome muscularity off the bench.
Ribb started well forcing Hills to kick for touch on the kick-off and keeping the ball for most of the first quarter.
Hills then had a good 10-minute spell in which Ribb tackled well to keep them out.
The visitors had a good scrummage and gave Ribb a hard time in the early scrums, but Ribb were better in the loose and on balance had the best of the forward exchanges.
Mick Thwaite slotted a penalty to give Ribb a 3-0 lead after 15 minutes.
Ribb then had a period on the back foot, but Liam Wallbank, returning after a long absence, and Jonny Moore in the centre gave Ribb solidity in defence and Moore made several half breaks to give Ribb the advantage.
Then Ribb shot themselves in the foot, as poor tackling let the Hills' captain in for a try giving the visitors a 5-3 half-time lead.
The second half was grim, as it started to rain and with the breeze in Hills' favour the two-point lead seemed slight.
However, Ribb put in a defensive shift that smothered the visitors' attack and with Moore making several dents in the visitors' defence, they gradually turned the game.
Hills' dominance in the scrum evaporated and the Ribb pack got on top.
Matt Speres moved from hooker to eight and immediately made a break taking Ribb from defence to attack.
From a platform on the visiting 10-metre line, Moore won the ball and made a half break to set up Wallbank, who scored a match-winning try wide out on the left.
The conversion was missed, but Ribb had their nose in front and kept it there for the rest of the game.
Hills lost their composure in the face of determined tackling. They were only three points down and had enough possession to force another try or penalty but they seldom got beyond the home 10-metre line and never got into the 22 as Ribb closed out an 8-5 win.