Ripley Rhinos 1sts 0
Amber Valley 2nds 54
NLD Pennant League Group 4
Rhinos hosted local rivals Amber Valley 2nds at Mill Hill on Saturday.
Ripley were delighted to welcome Martin Seccombe back into the centres, partnering Danny Rymell, who had an afternoon off from his rugby league duties.
Ben Heanue was also warmly received back into the fray and took over the captaincy for the afternoon.
Ripley knew it would be a hard game. Valley came armed with a strong side who had experience and youth blended well.
The initial play was scrappy with too many knock-ons from both sides and plenty of scrums. The Rhino front row made their opposite numbers’ afternoon challenging, with powerful work coming from loose head Richard Cleaver, hooker Dave Arrowsmith and tight head Andy Upton, but Valley managed to secure their own ball with a lot of effort.
The lineouts were even and the home side had the lion’s share of territory and possession in the first 20 minutes without really threatening a score.
The Pye Bridge men were clinical and scored from their first attack. A catch and drive lineout was initially stopped but poor marking on the fringes allowed the hooker to burst through to score a try that was converted.
The hosts had the better of the second 20 minutes and put pressure on the Ripley 22. A second try came when Rhinos cleared their lines to halfway but failed to nail the tackles required as the ball was run back for a second converted try.
Late in the half, the maroons drove back into the Valley 22 but twice they knocked the ball on with the line within sight and thus went into half-time 14-0 behind.
The second half was always going to be harder than the first as Rhinos now had the swirling wind against them. The power of the pack at the setpiece was still there, with Cleaver a constant leading force in attack and defence but the tackling Achilles heel was back and the visitors were quick to exploit it.
Two quick tries took the game out of reach of Ripley as they tired and injuries took their toll. Valley were aggressive at the ruck and in open play and this pushed Ripley onto the back foot so that, when they did make tackles, they were letting the visitors get over the gain line each time.
The last quarter of the game saw the visitors score four more tries as the Rhinos wilted, though a cracking tackle from replacement flanker Carl Shaw did at least give them a crumb of comfort.
Once Valley imposed their game pattern on this match, it wasn’t much of a contest.
BAB Plumbing & Heating Man of the Match winner for Rhinos was Richard Cleaver.
Rhinos face a friendly this Saturday as they are due to travel to Stonegravels to take on Chesterfield 2nds.