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Skipton beaten by fellow strugglers
Skipton travelled to meet their fellow strugglers Roundhegians with their spirits high after their recent performances but they come off second best in a mistake-strewn game.
The late withdrawal of full-back Miff Smith, a trip to Disneyland for Rick Willsher and a Halifax detour for Ben Hall and Malc Dutton meant a last-minute team reshuffle by coach Carl Watts. It was a 40th birthday present he could have done without!!
Andy Maclean deputised well at full back fielding the high ball well and, as usual, tackling well above his weight.
Young Jordan Wilson was promoted from the bench to cover for the late arrival of Hall and acquitted himself well.
Promising second row Daryl Swa- les grew in stature and confidence as the game went on. He will relish more game time as he continues to develop.
Skipton kicked off through Jonny Moore up the slight slope at The Memorial Ground and early pressure saw the visitors gain a 22 metre line-out from a Roundhegians penalty.
This was won by the towering Mal Willsher and after an insertion by Jonny Moore second phase possession went to Aussie Tom Keady, who drove hard into the heart of the home defence only to see the play break down due to a knock-on in the ruck.
Roundhegians cleared their lines with a relieving touchline kick from stand-off Elliot Smith and began exerting pressure on the Reds.
An eventual turnover in a ruck and some good defensive forward drives saw Skipton claw their way back up field.
Darren Howson, marshalling from stand-off, put in a deft cross field kick for hard running winger Lee Shaw who took it well, but was tackled into touch.
The home side launched an attack from the line-out and penetrated deep into Skipton territory. Jimmy Boynton eventually halting their progress.
The Reds’ scrambling defence was under pressure from the ensuing second-phase play and centres Sam Trutch and Jim Kitson combined well to put away speedy winger Simon Cummings to score wide out.
The conversion fell short but the home side led by five points.
Skipton rallied and again forced the home team onto the back foot but could not find the final breakthrough pass they were searching for..
This was to continue, frustratingly, for players and coach alike throughout the game, the minor handling errors and wrong decision making costing try-scoring opportunities.
The visitors were not alone however as the home side spurned many more chances to score as they battered away at a resolute Skipton defence, a pattern all too often repeated this season.
From a very effective shortened line-out the Reds powered forward forcing Roundhegians to concede a five-metre scrum.
Scrum half Shaun Barraclough fed Howson who showed the young heads the way to the line. He drew two defenders as he shaped to pass, only to throw his trade mark dummy and side-step in unopposed under the posts.
He stroked over the conversion to take Skipton into a slender 7-5 half-time lead.
The second half continued much in the same manner as the first with both teams in turn exerting pressure on their respective opposition de- fences but with neither side able to deliver the killer punch.
Skipton for their part defended well pressurising the opposition into crucial last pass mistakes as they constantly threw the ball wide trying to use their superior pace in the back line.
As with many previous games this season the Reds’ defence was not in doubt and were only undone by three late penalty calls that allowed scrum half Alex Jones to claim two successful kicks to establish a four-point lead into the closing minutes of the game.
The visitors were still unbowed and launched one final onslaught.
They worked the ball well down the left flank to secure a line-out deep in the home 22.
Another good lift enabled Malc Willsher to secure yet more clean ball, before a short drive by the forwards drew in the Roundhegians defence .
Howson launched the attack with Keady hit the line at pace but, with a clear route to the line beckoning, he could not hold the pass.