Rugby Union friendly
Woodhouse Giants 1st XV 31pts
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV 12pts
Ripley travelled over to Mansfield Woodhouse on a blisteringly hot afternoon to face a fit and eager Woodhouse Giants. After worries during the week about finding a decent sized squad and a front row, coach Carl Whitley found 23 players at his disposal.
Ripley, resplendent in their new AEG-sponsored kit, started a little slowly though the pack looked strong in the set-piece, with the front row of Ben Smith, Keegan Pelser and Andy Upton overpowering their opponents. The hosts weren’t bowed by this though and always had willing runners and were prepared to put their bodies on the line in defence. They pressured Ripley into conceding a penalty on the edge of the 22 which they kicked to open a 3-0 lead.
Rhinos made their way back upfield and through strong runs from Ben Smith and inside-centre Danny Rymell and when Giants conceded a penalty near their own line, fly half Dave Trubee tapped and went, throwing a dummy to score.
Giants’ enthusiasm then drove them back down the pitch and a breakaway was snuffled out by full back Colin Marklew and winger Derek Houston, with Houston getting a yellow card for killing the ball. The maroons were then too upright from the subsequent penalty and allowed Woodhouse to charge over for a converted try. Rhino’s Achilles Heel of ill-discipline struck them next and allowed Woodhouse to dominate the rest of the half and notch another penalty to go into the interval 13-5 ahead.
Skipper Zeique Robinson’s half-time team talk was around Rhinos relaxing and playing the rugby they were capable of but the heat and frenetic nature of the game seemed to affect his team as they didn’t follow the directive in the second half.
Tackling that was too high allowed Woodhouse to make yards into the Ripley half up the slope and they scored another try to extend their lead to 18-5. Rhinos weren’t panicking and some solid kicking and running built them a period of pressure in the home team’s 22. Eventually they forced a 5-metre scrum and the maroon pack drove the home side back over the line with No. 8 Robinson scoring. Trubee slotted the conversion and Ripley had reduced the deficit to 18-12.
Ripley tired in the heat and with time running out, began to throw the ball around, looking for a score. Ben Smith made a couple of strong breaks but there weren’t enough in support to turn these into the needed points. The home side had the scent of victory in their nostrils and more ill-discipline gifted them two penalties.
Ripley were left trying to force a score and a good break from Ben Smith and replacement winger Ant Hardwick almost has them over the line but when the ball came loose, Giants were able to go in for a final score and ease out 31-12 winners.
Hopefully the reaction to this below key display will kick start Ripley’s season. Woodhouse Giants eagerness and endeavour saw them deservedly win. Loose-head prop Ben Smith won the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors Man of the Match award from his team mates.
Ripley’s chance to out things right will be at their trip to Derby Vets on Saturday in the Pennant League; kick off 3pm.