NLD Pennant League
Paviors 3rd XV 50pts
1st XV 0pts
A DEPLETED Rhino XV made the trek to the Burntstump to take on league leaders Paviors thirds.
Stand-in skipper Sam Musgrove stepped up to prop and second team captain Craig Culshaw also came in at hooker.
Late withdrawals left Rhinos without any substitutes on a boiling hot afternoon and can be thankful that flanker Ant Hardwick was on hand to make an assured debut.
Paviors were much the younger side and, as it transpired, the fitter in general but Rhinos had the best of the opening ten minutes.
Full back Dave Trubee pushed an early penalty attempt wide and fly-half Rupert Tighe had their best first half chance when he took a quick tap penalty and danced through the home side defence with his mesmerising feet - faced with the last defender, he side stepped him only for the beaten player to trip him - the referee gave Ripley the advantage but they couldn’t score from it.
More surprising was the fact he didn’t award a penalty try and at least yellow card.
The home side regrouped and began to probe the Ripley defence with their running. Rhinos held up well with Tighe and his two centres Danny Rymell and Paul Buzzard up so quick in defence it gave them little room to burst the initial line.
They were astute enough to bring in runners from deep and this caused the first try when they punched through and had the support to score.
A second and third try followed as Rhinos were forced back.
The Ripley tackling was good, Tighe, Rymell, Musgrove and scrum half Mitch Wilmott all putting their best efforts in but the attacking was relentless.
Paviors managed a fourth and bonus point try before half time and went into the break 24-0 ahead.
Musgrove’s half-time pep talk centred on keeping up the defensive effort and having a go at the home team at every opportunity.
The captain led by example in the second half, constantly onto the Paviors attacks before they had time to regroup and his wilting team did their best to follow.
Tighe was still a constant threat to the home team and Ripley suffered when he went down with a painful shoulder injury that turned out to be a fractured scapula.
Paviors continued to run well with the ball but Rhinos keep going - the pack doing wonders to win possession at the scrum and the whole side playing with spirit.
The heat didn’t really help either side as the intensity seeped out of the game. The home side scored another four tries to ease out 50-0 victors.
Paviors are worthy league leaders but despite the scoreline, Rhinos showed heart and commitment in this game, personified by captain Sam Musgrove who won the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors Man of the Match award from his team mates.
Both Rhinos teams are due to be in action this Saturday, the 1sts facing another challenging game away at Newark 4ths and the 2nds hosting Nottingham Casuals 3rds also in the Pennant at Mill Hill, with the matches kicking off at 3pm but with injuries possibly nibbling away at the ability to put out two sides.