NLD Pennant League
Mellish 3rd XV 36pts
Ripley Rhinos 2nd XV 20pts
RHINOS skipper Craig Culshaw rallied his secondsnds for a trip to face Pennant League opponents Mellish thirds on Mapperley Plains.
A whistling wind greeted both sides, with Mellish having it at their backs in the first half.
Culshaw was pleased to welcome Danny Rymell back to outside centre from his broken finger, and welcomed the solidity and experience that Peter Kay and Mike Symons gave to the second row.
Mellish started with territory and possession, driven forward by the wind and the fact that Rhino fly half Paul Buzzard couldn’t make many yards with clearance kicks and they took advantage by scoring an early try from a driving maul.
Their fly half, who had a very impressive day kicking for the posts with the wind, slotted the first of his three first half conversions.
The Ripley pack decided to then take over with a series of strong scrummages and pick and drives.
Mellish were on the back foot and conceding yards and penalties and replacement flanker Sam Musgrove led his team forward as they picked and drove their way to the line with tight head prop Andy Upton the beneficiary as he crashed over to score.
Mellish quickly worked their way down into the Ripley 22 and after a period of pressure, broke through and were set to score until a magnificent tackle from Rymell on the line dislodged the ball and kept them out.
The respite didn’t last long and Mellish added a second converted try.
The visitors used their nous and stuck to their tight game and this time timed passing it out to the bank line to perfection for inside-centre Adam Parr to go in to score.
Full back Adam Langley had to go off with a neck injury, seeing a reshuffle with winger Jamie Banks slotting in to cover and Derek Houston coming off the bench for his debut.
He was soon into the fray with his tackling and defence but he and his side couldn’t stop Mellish adding their third try to go in 21-10 ahead at the break.
Mellish had the faster runners overall and the edge in the lineout so Ripley choose not to use the boot much in the second half; perhaps in hindsight pushing the home side back would have been a better choice.
Prop Dave Arrowsmith replaced Dave Cleland and carried on his good work of the first half. A fourth Mellish try came after they had space to attack they used well.
Rhinos struck back when the pack drove over from a 5-metre scrum with skipper Culshaw claiming the touchdown.
Only 26-15 behind, Ripley knew the next score would be crucial. They were hammering at the Mellish line when white line fever struck again and chances were spurned when overlaps were available.
A second phase of attacking saw an offload go astray and the home side run it all the way back upfield for the try.
The Rhino pack fashioned a bonus point score when they stripped the Mellish No. 8 after he picked up under pressure and good handling saw Banks use his nifty footwork to score.
Any hopes of a Ripley come back slid away with another Mellish score as they rounded the game off at 36-20 winners.
Ripley had the opportunity to get more from this match but with so many playing in different positions with players they hadn’t played with recently, it was no surprise to see staccato play rather than flowing rugby.
The BAB Plumbing and Heating Man of the Match award went to Rhino back row Sam Musgrove.
Rhinos seconds continue their League campaign by hosting Long Eaton seconds this Saturday at Mill Hill; kick off 2.15pm (pitch permitting).