RFUW National Challenge Division 2 North
Ripley Rhinos Ladies 19pts
Derby Vipers Ladies 36pts
Near neighbours Derby Vipers made the trip up the A38 to Mill Hill for Ripley Ladies’ first match of 2011.
Skipper Robin Buck welcomed outside centre Caroline van Ingen for her first start of the season and took on the fly half berth herself with Lou Ellis missing through work.
Rhinos were playing into the wind first half and up the slope but it didn’t affect their powerful start. No. 8 Zoë Markham led the pack upfield and forced Derby into conceding a penalty on the edge of their 22. Markham took a quick tap and drove it on, the pack recycled and took it on again and Markham was on hand to take the offload from prop Liz Trubee to score. Buck’s conversion saw Ripley 7-0 ahead.
Derby weren’t going to be pushovers and despite being a little out-muscled upfront, they always wanted to spread the ball wide in their backline and that posed a constant threat and stretched the Ripley cover defence with van Ingen and inside centre Lorna Hunter having to tackling well. Rhinos then extended their lead when van Ingen found space to scoot in from 40 yards.
The second half saw Ripley striving hard but beginning to tire and Derby took advantage of the gaps that appeared to score five more tries and come off the pitch comfortable winners.
This was a decent start to 2011 despite the scoreline and a good game that was well refereed.
There was enough on show for Ripley to have a good second half to the season if they can just improve in a couple of areas.
Number eight Zoë Markham had a very strong game and won the Elliott’s School of Motoring player of the match award from her team mates.