NLD Pennant League
East Leake 2nd XV 47pts
Ripley Rhinos 2nd XV 13pts
EAST Leake 2nds hosted their Ripley counterparts in this Pennant League game.
Skipper Craig Culshaw could only muster nine Rhinos but the hosts were generous and lent five good players to ensure Ripley were only one short.
East Leake started the brighter and had Ripley under pressure early on but some determined scramble defence, with the borrowed players and full back Steve Lowe to the fore, kept them out.
The sky blues had the knack of forcing the turnover at vital times and managed to get the ball out of their 22 when a try seemed inevitable.
Good handling and running from the backs, with outside-centre Martin Seccombe looking strong in possession then allowed the forwards to set up a ruck in front of the posts and scrum half Dean Kenney fed fly half Dave Trubee for an easy drop goal attempt to take the lead against the run of play.
The home side struck back with an unconverted try despite more good tackling from Lowe, second row Mike Symons and Trubee in the build up.
A powerful run from winger Adam Njie then gave Ripley field position and Trubee took advantage of a penalty to tap and go and, though he was caught by the covering winger, his offload was swooped on by inside-centre Will Taylor who went in under the posts. Culshaw converted and Ripley were 10-3 ahead.
Culshaw’s men extended their lead just before half time when hooker Keegan Pelser threw deep into the lineout and his second pod fed Kenney.
His pass found Trubee on the halfway line with not much on and the fly half attempted a 45 metre drop goal and a passing gust of wind saw the kick have just enough power in it to flop over the bar.
Ripley knew they would be in for a tough second half and so it proved.
As they began to tire and make mistakes, East Leake upped the ante and began to score regularly. Second row Justin Neville was probably the most effective defender for Ripley in this period but he couldn’t stop the tide of East Leake runners.
The hosts really powered away and scored six unanswered tries as they took control and ran out 47-13 winners.
Thanks to East Leake’s generosity, this was a close encounter until Ripley ran out of steam and a very good first game of the season for Culshaw’s side.
Outside-centre Martin Seccombe was a powerful presence in all he did and deserved the BAB Plumbing and Heating man of the match award from his team mates.