Friendly defeat for Ripley Rhinos

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Ripley Rhinos lost their friendly 22-7 on Saturday against Rolls-Royce 2nds.

Though both teams were familiar with each other, an excellent game ensued.

Rhinos’ skipper Craig Culshaw was delighted to welcome the guesting Jamie Barlow, Andy Gillett, Malcolm Gale and Gary Taylor into his side.

It was a day where the captain had to be at his most inventive as he only had three recognised backs in his side. Unfamiliarity was the name of the game as Sam Smith slotted in at full back, Simon Midgley at outside centre and Roy Austin onto the wing, with all acquitting themselves well.

Royce’s had the edge in the first quarter. Ripley were a little disjointed and there were gaps in defence. Smith worked well at the back but the home side were able to make regular line breaks and sizeable yards into sky blue territory.

Rhinos had the edge in the scrums, with the triumvirate of Barlow, Culshaw and tight head Andy Upton powerfully driven on by second rows Gale and Taylor, with Gale jumping well in the lineout but Royce’s powerful midfield runners had the edge.

Twice Ripley missed tackles and twice Royce’s broke through to score unconverted tries.

Worse came as Royce’s turned over the ball deep in their 22 close to half-time and broke away to add a third try.

Ripley were still in this game but needed to turn possession and territory into scores.

Inside centre Dan Bexyer was eager for ball and running, and linked well with Midgley as the half wore on. The pack continued to power Royce’s back in the setpiece and set up a chance close to the home side’s line.

A speculative wiper kick from Trubee was almost snapped up by Austin but it just eluded him. The pack weren’t to be deterred though and soon forced another penalty. Trubee tapped and went and, with Upton backing him up, the defence moved across to cover the prop, allowing the fly half to bully his way over for the try he also converted.

There was time on the board for a comeback and Ripley looked powerful. Royce’s continued to tackle well but the visitors were playing some wholehearted rugby. Try as they might though, they couldn’t find a score to put themselves almost on level terms and the home side managed a late breakaway try.

The scoreline doesn’t reflect what a tight match this was.

It was ultimately determined by Royce’s scoring twice early on. Barlow showed his class with his work in the tight and constant threat ball carrying to win the BAB Plumbing & Heating man of the match award from his team.

Rhinos will look to the fixture pool for a game on Saturday.