Ripley ensured a merry Christmas with their first win of the season at Castle Donington in this friendly.
Initially, both teams looked to be short of a full XV but the addition of half a dozen Woodhouse Giants to the Ripley squad ensured a full 15-a-side game, with the visitors lending Castle Donington Sam Musgrove, Zeique Robinson and Dave Trubee.
It was a cold afternoon but otherwise perfect for rugby and the play see-sawed through the first 10 minutes.
The scrums were a strong battle all game, with the Rhino front row of Dave Arrowsmith, Shaun Underwood and Craig Culshaw supported by locks Gage Stevenson and Scott Randall.
The maroon line-out also worked well with openside Tony Ratcliffe dominant.
It was the hosts who opened the scoring through sometime Rhino Luke Heanue’s converted try.
The game continued to be tight, with Evans probing the Donington defensive line but his thrusts being repelled.
Ripley drew level when No. 8 Karl Ickeringill powered off a scrum and linked well with blindside Simon Brown.
Although tackled short, quick ball from scrum-half Jon Doughty saw inside centre Craig Worboys dive over, Evans converting.
Good tackling from full back Rich Brown and wingers Danny Dykes and Steve Carroll kept Donington out and in the final play of the half the visitors shipped the ball through the backline for outside centre Joe Ducker to go in to score.
In the second half Castle Donington’s elusive fly-half scored a try to level at 12-12.
But some broken field play gave Ducker a chance to show his class and blaze in from 50 metres, with Evans converting.
Although Donington levelled it through Heanue, Rhinos then got the key score from turnover ball, shipping it wide for BAB Plumbing & Heating Man of the Match Ducker to score his hat-trick, Evans converting.
The home side didn’t have too much left in the tank, and the final score of the game came from Ripley second row Stevenson, powering in under the posts, with Evans slotting his fourth conversion as his team ran out 33-19 winners.
This was a good game, enjoyed by both sets of players and the spectators alike.