NLD Pennant League, Group 4
West Bridgford 3rds 12pts
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV 30pts
A STRONG Ripley first team travelled over to Nottingham to take on a West Bridgford side they had drawn with earlier in the Pennant League campaign.
The team greeted the return of captain and fly-half Will Evans with great joy after a long time out and he soon made his mark in his talented style.
Almost from the first whistle it was clear that Ripley had the upper hand in all things pack-related. They pushed the home side’s scrum around with ease and dominated the lineout. Bridgford had a capable set of backs but the maroons starved them of possession for to nullify this threat.
Ripley opened the scoring on ten minutes when scrum half Mitch Wilmott took advantage of the scrum marching inexorably toward the line to pick up and dive over. Evans extended the Ripley lead with a penalty from short range after Bridgford were penalised at the scrum.
More strong attacking, with the back row of Sam Musgrove, Rich Keeling and Liam Murcott at the forefront saw a second try scored by prop Dave Arrowsmith who barrelled over from a lineout set move.
The hosts threatened but strong midfield defence from centres Danny Rymell and Paul Buzzard kept the maroon try line only in long-range focus.
The power at the scrum seemed to have an intense allure for the visitors and when they kept being awarded penalties near the Bridgford line they kept opting for scrums but their precision didn’t match their power and several times chances were squandered as Bridgford desperately but effectively defended the line to turn the ball over and work the danger clear.
Another penalty, 40 metres from the posts, gave Evans the chance to move his team 16-0 ahead but they then lost concentration on the half time whistle, and allowed the hosts to score an unconverted try in the corner.
Ripley were 16-5 ahead at half time but knew that they had the half-time lead and pack dominance in their previous game but eventually went on to lose.
Thankfully for them they stuck to the basics that had served them well in the first half and continued to win the lion’s share of the ball. Rhinos extended their lead 14 minutes into the half when second row Keith Buzzard showed his power from close range to charge over to score with supporting players outside of him. Evans again converted and this left the maroons looking for a fourth and therefore bonus point try.
West Bridgford continued to attack when they could and only solid defence, with Liam Murcott again to the fore, kept them out. The pack then took charge and hammered at the host’s line, recycling the ball until Wilmott spied a gap and fived over to score his second and ensure the bonus point. Evans’ conversion took Ripley 30-5 ahead and saw the game beyond the home side’s reach.
Understandably the Rhino hoof slipped off the pedal and the home side got a consolation score by spreading the ball wide and having the numbers to score with three minutes left.
The totemic presence of skipper Will Evans could not be under-estimated and he deservedly took the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors Man of the Match award from his team mates.
Ripley firsts travel to Mansfield to take on Woodhouse Giants 1st XV in the Pennant. The 2nds will look for a game from the fixture pool.