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You can bet on North Ribblesdale to win away from home these days
Pontefract 16, North Ribblesdale 32
In times gone by Ribb were terrible on the road – but not any more.
After running Selby very close in SSE Yorkshire Division One, Ribb won at Pontefract for the first time in 12 years, with the whole team playing so well that they squandered three further scoring chances.
However, while the final score was clear cut, it was only in the last 15 minutes that Ribb put the match beyond doubt.
Pontefract had long spells of territory and were only kept out by the usual suspects in defence – the whole of the backline.
Ribb’s defensive endeavour and organisation is getting better and better these days, and it takes a very good team to break them down.
The visitors started well, with Ponte mishandling Steve Moon’s kick off. Graham Newhouse drove for the posts and an offside gave Jonathan Richard his first pot at goal under the posts, and he made no mistake.
No-one who reads this will be surprised that Ribb then made a total hash of the kick-off.
There are eight forwards who look eager to field the ball, but most of them shy away if it comes near them. Ribb should have the two dominant catchers in the pack nominated to catch the ball, and the rest should support.
Generously given the ball back, Pontefract, who have two powerful players in Andrew Fradgley at eight and Matty Hargreaves at nine, had a spell of dominance.
But though they threw all they had at the Ribb backline, they could not make any impression, and it was Ribb who scored next with Andrew Thwaite putting pressure on the full back. He missed his touch kick and Simon Bolland fielded the ball inside his ten-yard line.
A couple of side-steps and a searing break through a shocked pack later, Moon and Richards took over, the latter sliding a kick behind the winger for Josh McFarlane to sprint and score an unconverted try.
Mick Carr fielded the kick-off this time and made ground for Moon to put the ball deep into Ponte territory.
Ribb had their first spell of territorial dominance but Ponte showed that they could tackle, winning a penalty for Glenn Boyd to put the ball deep into the Ribb 22.
Will Thwaite took a good ball off Ponte’s line-out but a Ribb knock on gave them an attacking scrum.
Power from the base, with Fradgley on the blind, was held with a good tackle from Bolland, and two pick and drives and a man over in the middle put Mark Barlow in for a converted try.
Ribb’s 8-7 lead looked tenuous after Ponte kept the ball and battered away at Ribb’s midfield.
But it was Ribb who scored what was the best try of the match. Nathan Dakin and Jake Nowell had turned ball over, and Moon, whose tactical kicking was excellent, forced a defensive line-out.
Boyd kicked deep but missed touch. Unfortunately, it was Bolland who fielded the ball.
Another couple of steps and away he went again up to the covering winger and a try on a plate for Moon, converted by Rich-ards to give Ribb a 15-7 half-time lead.
Ponte came out hard in the second half and had their best spell of pressure, with Boyd kicking two penalties, but Ribb scored again through the uncontrollable Bolland, only for Boyd to land another penalty and make it 22-16.
Ponte were still a score away from winning, but had a yellow card, which disrupted them. Shortly after John Thwaite took a yellow card for the visitors, Calum Wilson replacing him in what was a a scrappy spell.
Moon suffered an ankle injury, Alex Naylor coming on. Ponte had the territory but could make nothing of the Ribb defence.
They kicked a penalty for the Thwaite offence, putting them a converted try away from winning. But Ribb were well disciplined and showed their fitness and, after a tense period for the visiting spectators, Richards scored and converted a well-worked try to put the game away at 29-16, later adding a penalty.
The seemingly irreproachable Bolland then lost the ball in the tackle on the line Ribb, with traditional ill discipline, ran a penalty under the posts when Ponte had another man sin-binned and a pushover try was almost a certainty. Russell Ingham then lost the ball in an unopposed run to the line.
Andy Thwaite looked lively on his debut, with Nowell reminding people what a good forward he is. Ethan Henare made some big dents in attack and defence, and Ingham and Thwaite were solid in the line-out.
But Ribb, who have Matt Speres returning from injury, have leaders York at home on Saturday.
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