Much-changed Ripley Rhino’s fall to an opening league defeat

NLD Pennant League

Group 4

Ripley Rhinos

1st XV 10pts

Paviors 3rd XV 29pts

PAVIORS third XV were the visitors to Mill Hill for Ripley 1sts opening Pennant league game.

Early season unavailabilites that led to the second team and Ladies games over the weekend being postponed gave returning skipper Will Evans a new look outfit.

The visitors had a powerful pack and a backline eager to spread the ball wide and run at the maroons from the off.

Paviors made Ripley’s life difficult at the scrummage from the off and turned early pressure into a first converted try.

Inventive work at the lineout gave Rhinos some good possession but whenever it did come, it was often slow and not allowing fly half Evans to release his potent centre pairing of Rich Keeling at inside and Anton Brown at outside.

The home side’s best attacking often came when they put the pressure on Paviors when they had possession; one such instance saw turnover ball and then some very good recycling and mini-breaks from the pack before No.8 Zeique Robinson fed Evans a pass only five metres out and he unselfishly drew the covering defender to put scrum half Dave Trubee in for his second try of the season.

Evans converted and Ripley were level against the run of play.

Rhinos then suffered the loss of influential forward Ben Smith to a calf injury - the talisman had been playing at tight-head prop but Dave Cleland came off the bench to put in a sterling display against a big opponent in his place.

Hooker Carl Whitley and loosehead Dave Kemp also had solid games whilst under pressure. Flanker Sam Musgrove was outstanding with his defensive work top level and he single handled turned over several Paviors balls.

A second Paviors try came but Evans reduced the deficit with a well-struck penalty.

A third visitor try came before half-time to see them 19-10 ahead.

Evans cajoled his mean at the break and they came out ready to give their all in the second half.

Paviors again had the majority of ball and territory but Ripley defended valiantly.

The Nottinghamshire men scored twice more and created enough opportunities to put themselves out of sight but the Rhino scramble defence was a match for their attacking endeavours often enough to stop them scoring any more.

The final whistle was greeted with appreciation from Ripley, in truth they hadn’t really been in the contest throughout the second period but the spirit they showed, and the fact they played with a smile on their face in-between the grimaces, bodes well for future games.

Flanker Sam Musgrove made an outstanding return from injury and was worthy recipient of the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors man of the match award.

Pennant league action continues this Saturday with both Ripley teams in action. The first XV face another tough game against West Bridgford thirds and the seconds travel to East Leake fourths in an equally challenging match, both games have 3pm kick offs.