AN understrength North Ribblesdale were beaten 32-0 at home on Saturday by a powerful Barnsley side looking to avoid relegation.
Ribb, missing two of their most influential players in Johnny Moore and Matt Speres, are safe from relegation but their drift out of the top five is worrying, especially as they are able to win the tight ball in scrum and line-out.
Their problem is keeping the ball, but with a makeshift back row they found it difficult against powerful Barnsley, whose most damaging moves were through Ribb's midfield.
Ribb started well with the midfield defence cancelling out Barnsley's back moves but their lack of a penetrative kicker meant they could not use the wind at their backs, trailing by a penalty after half an hour and being behind by 15-0 at half time.
Ribb had won the set piece ball, but could make little headway against the Barnsley midfield and weak tackling let in two tries instigated by broken field running from Barnsley's powerful back row.
However, there were signs that the Ribb scrum was getting on top with them driving Barnsley back.
After half-time, Ribb were slow to get into gear and Barnsley scored two quick converted forward-instigated tries, punching through Ribb's midfield.
This put them well clear a 29-0 and with the wind against Ribb it was going to be difficult to get back into the game.
After ten minutes, Ribb had a yellow card for dissent which put further pressure on them, they did however hold out only conceding a single penalty.
In the last ten minutes, Ribb had their best spell of the game and were unfortunate not to score.
Their scrum gave a tiring Barnsley a hard time and though against the wind they spent most of the last ten minutes in the Barnsley half, and were unlucky not to score in the last minute losing the ball over the line.
Ribb were understrength, and despite playing well in the scrum their midfield tackling was poor, and this was the most fruitful area of attack for Barnsley.
Jim Tunney, out of position at No 7 played well, tackling and carrying strongly, the whole of the front row scrummaged well and their was solid support from the second row.
They have a tough away game at Northallerton this Saturday but their league season is coming to an end, and as they are in no danger of going down they can play with a bit of freedom.