Rugby Union friendly
Long Eaton 1st XV 41pts
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV 5pts
WITH the Rhino’s seconde team game at Belper thirds and the Ladies’ game at Scunthorpe on Sunday both called off, all the attention switched to the intended NLD Vase quarter final at Mill Hill.
The cold weather forced a pitch inspection at midday and the bare areas and ruts from the previous week were rock hard and a threat to any player who got caught in them, therefore the game was called off.
Rather than find alternative activity for the afternoon, Ripley contacted their opponents to see if their pitch would be free for a friendly.
It was and skipper Sam Musgrove took a depleted squad of 14 across to West Park.
Something must have got lost in translation as the home side had substitutes available but they didn’t offer one to Ripley so the visitors played a man short throughout.
With two thirds of the front row missing, Ripley had to play uncontested scrums. Rhinos knew it would be a hard afternoon with Long Eaton flying at the top of their league but wanted the test of their defence.
The hosts didn’t let them down with a desire to spread the ball wide at every opportunity and it was clear why they were having such a successful season.
Ripley’s defensive skills were tested from the start but with inside centre Tim Moll and second row Rich Keeling tackling superbly, they kept Long Eaton at bay for 15 minutes.
They eventually used their constant overlap to score despite winger Dan Edgerton’s tackle and move ahead.
Ripley then stung them in terrific style when outside centre Anton Brown tackled his opposite number 30 metres from the hosts line and ripped the ball off him to power away and score.
Long Eaton hit back and hammered away at the maroons for the remainder of the half, scoring twice more and going into half-time 17-5 ahead.
The second half started with the Long Eaton outside centre picking a sumptuous running line for a very good try and Rhinos were again forced to defend for the majority of the half.
Scrum half Matt Upton took a ten minute rest for an over-vigorous tackle but his work before and after that was excellent and his team mates weren’t far behind.
Again Tim Moll was instrumental in the defence and made the home side work very hard for territory and scoring opportunities.
Ripley’s makeshift side tired under the relentless attacking Long Eaton threw at them but all 14 battled hard and came off the pitch beaten 41-5 but not dispirited.
The scoreline suggests a heavy beating and certainly Long Eaton had all the front foot rugby but Ripley will have benefited from this test of their defence and the opportunity it gave a number of fringe players to play first team rugby.
They now know the areas they need to work on for whenever the cup game is rescheduled fo
. Inside centre Tim Moll put in an outstanding defensive display and took the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors man of the match award.
Ripley firsts travel to Dronfield 2s on Saturday in a Pennant game. The seconds are also in Pennant league action over at Nottinghamians 2s. The Ladies make the journey to Hull Ladies on Sunday for a league game.