NLD Pennant League
Ripley Rhinos 1st XV 40pts
All Spartans Old Boys
1st XV 7pts
NEWLY-FORMED Woodhouse Giants arrived at Mill Hill for this Pennant League game, taking over the now defunct All Spartans Old Boys fixtures, to play a Rhino side on a run of poor performances in recent weeks.
Home skipper Sam Musgrove led his team down the slope in the first half, with the sweeping wind slightly against them but thankful to welcome tight head prop Andy Upton back to the side after six weeks out.
The initial skirmishes soon pointed the way the game would go; the visitors having honest toil and pace out wide as their attacking threat but Ripley having the dominance in the scrums and the lineout.
No.8 Zeique Robinson was in imperious mood taking his own ball and disrupting the Woodhouse side’s and it was only the occasional gust of wind that stopped him from having a 100 per cent success record throughout the game.
The front row of props Dave Arrowsmith and Upton and hooker Dave Kemp took seven strikes against the head in the game and made their opposite numbers engagements hard work all match.
Despite the possession the initial set-piece won for them, Ripley didn’t seem to find a way of getting fast ball out to the backline.
Both centres, Rich Keeling and Anton Brown, looked potent with ball in hand and full back Adam Parr was back at his best with barrelling runs when presented with the ball.
Nevertheless they looked out of sorts and some less than sparkling defence put them under pressure when really there was no need.
The Achilles Heel of giving away soft penalties returned with vengeance to further give the visitors easy yardage.
When Ripley did put some cohesive possession together, they scored, Brown spotting the gap off a third-phase ruck and shrugging off tacklers to score from 20 metres.
Fly-half Dave Trubee converted and the maroons were 7-0 ahead.
The lead didn’t last long as penalties conceded gave the Woodhouse men territory and eventually they scored next to the posts, though with the referee unsighted it was Rhinos who sportingly gave them the try. The conversion saw the teams level into the break.
The half-time team talk for the home side was about controlling the game but they didn’t seem to have relaxed enough to enjoy the possession the pack won.
As the visitors tired, Rhinos power men came to the fore; firstly scrum half Mitch Wilmott was on hand to finish off a decent attack with a try, Trubee converting.
Ten minutes later, he was on hand again to support a break from Brown for another converted try.
Ripley welcomed replacement No. 8 Ben Smith back to the side after injury and he put in several trademark breaks, eventually being on hand to cut through the visitor defence for a converted try.
Rhinos were now completely on top and a break up the blindside from Ben Smith saw an offload to Wilmott who broke through tacklers to go in for his hat-trick.
The final try came to Brown who swooped on a loose ball, broke the tackle, pulled up his shorts and sped away to score. Trubee notched his fifth conversion and Ripley came off 40-7 winners in a very well refereed match.
In the end, Rhinos had the power to ease past their opponents but they did make hard work of it initially.
Credit must go to using performers like hooker Dave Kemp and winger Danny Rymell for putting in good work when the scoreline was close but the Abex Window Cleaning Contractors man of the match award went to scrum half and hat trick scoring hero Mitch Wilmott.
Ripley first XV face a tough Pennant game away at East Retford seconds this Saturday.
Training for all the men’s and ladies side continues at Frederick Gents School on their outdoor artificial pitch 8pm-10pm on Tuesdays - for more details ring 07816 779018.