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Skipton's young guns put up a fight
Buy this photo » Josh Beck makes a break for Skipton
Skipton 11 Selby 32
In fine rugby conditions Skipton took to the field with renewed confidence after last week’s emphatic win over fellow strugglers Ripon.
That confidence was to be swiftly dented when the home side failed to properly secure kick-off ball. With no decisive call Jimmy Boynton secured possession of the bouncing ball and drove into the advancing opposition.
In the ensuing ruck the ball was knocked forward giving scrum possession to the visitors on Skipton’’s 22. The resulting set play saw Selby’s No8 Martin Protheroe make an incisive break from the base of the scrum. Tom Keady hauled him down but Protheroe popped the ball up for open-side flanker James Blaymire to crash over from short range and stand-off Josh Cruise added the conversion.
Skipton soon rallied and forced the visitors onto the back foot for long periods in the first half. A series of quick rucks with the ball spread wide saw the home side penetrate deep into enemy territory. Selby were adept at infringing on the referee’s blind side at ruck and maul plays, and appeared to illegally cut down space for the home side.
The referee finally awarded Skipton a penalty, which Darren Howson duly converted. This was scant reward for the continued pressure they were exerting on promotion contenders Selby, whose cage was certainly rattled.
The pressure continued and Selby’s defence became more and more disorganised with each Skipton phase, until it finally broke. The forwards drove hard through Chris Lambert and Rick Wilsher, the rucks being cleaned out by the ever-impressive Ben Hall and Kiwi newcomer Reid Wilson. This presented clean ball for scrum-half Shaun Barraclough to distribute well.
Hard-tackling winger Jake Wright and centres Jonny Moore and Josh Beck combined well as Skipton took the lead.
A neat inter-change of passes saw Moore draw two defenders before releasing Beck, who hit the line at pace to slice through Selby’s wrong-footed defence for a try.
Howson narrowly failed with the conversion attempt, but Skipton had taken a well- deserved 8-7 lead.
A long-range penalty from Cruise put Selby back into the lead and late in the half they secured a well-worked try wide out by replacement winger Oliver Saunders.
Cruise certainly had his kicking boots on in this game, landing a touchline conversion to make it 17-11 lead at half-time.
In the second half Selby continued their well drilled, structured plays to push forward and Skipton, to a man, defended stoutly. Winger James Ackers-Johnson and full back Miff Smith worked tirelessly in to clear a string of penetrating kicks from Cruise who controlled Selby’s back division. Both did well with what little attacking ball they had and tackled well to thwart many of the visitors’ wide attacks.
Young prop Simon Bygrave replaced hard-working Chris Wright, and put in a useful stint up front.
George Hall came on to replace Ackers-Johnson whose defensive exertions were generously applauded.
Hall made an immediate but unfortunate impact, his big hit on his opposing winger was harshly judged as dangerous by referee John McDaid from Liverpool. The resulting penalty saw Selby take a quick tap and move the ball wide to, at last, out-flank the home defence. Full back Dan Porter looped round speedy winger Saunders who provided the deft pass to release him to score wide out. The reliable boot of Cruise added the two points to take Selby into a 13 point lead .
In the dying minutes as Skipton pressed again the ball was lost forward in a tackle and Selby rolled the ball forward with a good deal of shepherding to score a try in the corner.
In this game of great endeavour and little reward the whole Skipton team could leave with heads held high. Special mention should go to blind side flanker Jimmy Boynton who spent all afternoon disrupting the visitors’ tight play at every opportunity. He did this with a more controlled aggression than we normally see, much to his own and the team’s benefit. At one point even stepped in to stop a punch-up.
The Reds’ front five did well, with Malc and Rick Wilsher to the fore. Wilson, in only his second game, is bedding in well and could prove to be a good pack leader.
The gulf between the two sides in league position was not reflected in play. Coach Carl Watt can rightly be proud of his players. He is gradually moulding this young and inexperienced side into a force that will have to be reckoned with.
If Skipton can continue playing as they did in this match and disrupt opposition set plays they stand every chance of securing further victories in the remaining games.
Their sternest test comes at Sheffield Medicals on Saturday.
An upset could be on the cards if every aspect of Skipton’s play is at its peak.