NLD Pennant League
Ripley Rhinos 2nd XV 3pts
2nd XV 94pts
RHINO’S second string suffered a chastening defeat at the hands of a faster, fitter and all-round stronger Chesterfield Panthers seconds.
Skipper Craig Culshaw worked minor miracles to get a squad of sixteen together for the game; welcoming back the evergreen Roger Morgan and with Tim Moll putting his body on the line again for his club at inside-centre and the redoubtable Adie Weir stepping up to play loosehead prop for the first time to fill the hole left by a late withdrawal.
Chesterfield made their intentions clear from the off and dictated the pattern of the match. Their pack had more power and fitness in the loose and were able to release their youthful back line with regularity at the Rhino defensive line.
The Rhino backs tackled themselves to a standstill when they could lay hands on their youthful opponents but with full back Adam Parr, leading the tackle count, being the most youthful of the back six at 38 years old, they were given the run-around.
Seven first half tries came from the visitors, with their fly half running his backs fairly much anywhere they wanted, with Ripley struggling to maintain much possession as they didn’t back their man in charge of the ball up with support.
The scrum worked some minor miracles to compete at the set-piece with Weir, hooker Culshaw and prop Steve Cresswell putting in a huge shift of work but Chesterfield still won lots of ball and made the most of it.
Second row Keith Buzzard tried to lift his pack with powerful defensive work but the standout player was No. 8 Liam Porter who worked hard in defence and proved an excellent kick off chaser - though he did have plenty of practice.
Ripley hardly managed any attacks but did get on the scoresheet on the half time whistle when outside centre Dave Trubee poked over a penalty from 40 metres to at least banish the threat of a whitewash.
Culshaw did his best to rally his troops at 47-3 down at the break but the second half pattern was a repeat of the first; Chesterfield having all the running and Rhinos can be thankful for the cover defence of Parr, Porter and scrum half Mitch Wilmott in trying to stem the tide of tries.
The visitors managed seven more tries and Ripley could at least take small consolation from keeping them to under a hundred but it wasn’t much to be proud of.
What Ripley could take from the game is that they stuck at it and tried from first minute to last.
Chesterfield were much the better side - with a scoreline like this who could you argue anything else - but if all the home side had brought their best defence to the game then they would have kept the score to half of what it was.
On a tough afternoon it was No.8 Liam Porter who put the Ripley performance of the day and won the BAB Plumbing and Heating Man of the Match award from his team mates.
Both Rhinos teams are in action this Saturday, the 1sts facing a stiff test away to league leaders Paviors thirds and the seconds hosting Nottinghamians seconds also in the Pennant at Mill Hill, with the matches kicking off at 3pm.