Rugby Union friendly
Southwell 3rd XV 34pts
2nd XV 12pts
Rhino second XV were delighted to find a game over at Southwell thirds to make a start to rugby in 2011.
Stand-in skipper Dave Trubee was fortunate to find a competitive front row only to find that Southwell didn’t have the same, though any disappointment was assuaged by the hosts generously lending players to ensure a full 15-a-side game went ahead.
Ripley were rusty in the extreme at the start and Southwell took full advantage with three tries and 17 points in the first quarter of the match, despite some desperate cover tackling from full back Mark Parkin.
The sky blues then began to get a grip on their game with the pack stepping up and winning decent possession - jumper Steve Kirk battling hard at the lineout and second row Mike Symons and prop Dave Kemp ever willing runners to carry the ball on.
Fly-half Liam Porter fed his back line well and inside centre Anton Brown proved as difficult as ever for the opposition to bring down.
Ripley had periods of pressure in the Southwell half and one such culminated in a short range penalty on the stroke of half time.
Kemp powered it almost to the line but eventually was held short and Rhinos committed a penalty.
Southwell took the brave decision to run it from beneath their own posts when booting it off would have seen half time and were made to pay when it went loose and No. 8 Trubee picked it up and dragged his tackler with him to ground it on the line.
Ripley were buoyed by this and were 17-5 behind at the break with the slope, wind and sun now in their favour.
The second half carried on where the first finished with Southwell having some pace and willingness to spread the ball wide but not always the hands to match their ambitions.
Rhinos got through a lot of defence keeping them out, Kemp and second row Adam Babiarz to the fore and team spirit was typified by scrum half Paul Stevenson making three tackles in ten seconds to keep the hosts at bay.
Despite the defensive effort, Southwell did score three more tries to pull away from Ripley.
The visitors did get a score of their own when they closed down the Southwell scrum half behind his own line and his clearing kick when straight up in the air and was swooped on by flanker Ollie Lenthall to score.
Porter’s excellent conversion rounded off a spirited team display as they came off 34-12 losers.
The team display improved as the game wore on and if the sky blues play how they finished this match in coming weeks, they will reap the rewards.
The BAB Plumbing and Heating man of the match award was deservedly won by prop Dave Kemp for an uplifting display that saw power in attack and defence.
l Rhinos firsts are at away to Tupton seconds this Saturday in the Pennant whilst the seconds host Ollerton seconds at Mill Hill also in the Pennant; both matches 2.15pm. The Ladies make the long trip to Fylde on Sunday for a league game.