NLD Pennant League
East Retford 2nd
1st XV 12pts
RIPLEY Rhinos travelled to East Retford seconds for this Pennant League game with yet another series of changes in their side due to injuries and other unavailabilites.
Stand-in skipper Dave Trubee was delighted to have the returning Ben Heanue at blindside flanker and winger Danny Rymell stepping up very well to play at outside-centre.
The home team had pace in their backline and a willingness to use it, stretching Ripley’s defence throughout the game. Ripley’s pack were under pressure in the scrums but props Dave Kemp and Dave Cleland, and hooker Craig Culshaw fought for every ball. Kemp’s throwing into the lineout was excellent throughout the game and flanker Zeique Robinson was dominant whilst he was on the pitch as jumper.
A couple of strong breaks from No.8 Ben Smith and inside-centre Anton Brown give Ripley respite from the Retford attacking and it was Brown who opened the scoring; Trubee intercepted an offload from the home side and handed the ball onto Brown who, from a standing start, beat six men and he powered the 40 metres to the line.
Trubee’s conversion made it 7-0. Retford came back onto the attack and worked their way upfield for an unconverted try.
Ripley then retook the lead when a sustained period pressure saw scrum half Sam Musgrove feed second row Keith Buzzard and he did well to force his way to the line and turn for his pack to drive him over and down for the try.
Retford then scored again after Rhinos stopped them just short of the line and they crashed over to score a converted try.
Ripley’s back row were doing a lot of disrupting of the Retford scrum possession, Ben Smith, Robinson and Heanue all making tackles to put the maroons back on the front foot.
As Ripley faced the last play before the whistle, they led 12-10.
Robinson broke again but as the tackle was made, he went down in pain with an ankle injury that later turned out to be a break.
Retford’s superior fitness began to tell in the second half.
Ripley defended manfully but the home side began to find holes they could exploit. Ripley still had the power of Brown and Ben Smith to attack with but they started to make poor attacking decisions and try to play too much rugby in the wrong parts of the pitch.
Once the hour came, and Retford were 20-12 ahead, Ripley’s tiring legs just saw them run out of steam. Rymell then went off with a broken finger which at least saw the slim-line Adam Eckersall in for his first game of the season off the bench. Retford scored four more times, thankfully only converting one, and ran out 42-12 winners.
Ripley were in this game and should perhaps have made more of their chances first half.
They tired and Retford pulled away as the game wore on.
Inside-centre Anton Brown was a constant threat to them and took the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors Man of the Match award from his team mates.
The depleted Rhino squad hope for a few returnees for this Saturday’s game; a NLD Vase quarter final home to Nottinghamians 1st XV; kick off 2.15pm at Mill Hill.