North Ribblesdale made to pay for their lack of direction

Craven Herald: Stephen Moon kicked early penalty Stephen Moon kicked early penalty

Heath 39 North Ribblesdale 15

North Ribblesdale squandered a bright start with an error-strewn performance which handed Yorkshire Division One victory to Heath.

Their play lacked direction and the tactics they adopted played into the hands of their opponents.

Ribb’s frustrated followers will be hoping that their side will rouse itself for Saturday when new Yorkshire One leaders Ilkley – a team they have held the Indian sign over in recent years – visit Grove Park.

The opening minutes of the game were promising. Stephen Moon had already missed one penalty when he gave his side the lead from his second kick at goal.

From the restart, Ribb were adjudged to have held on to the ball too long and up stepped Ezra Hinchliffe to slot over the kick.

The score appeared to galvanise the visitors and they turned over possession from the kick off.

Moon delivered a sublime cut out pass to give Josh McFarlane an easy gallop to the line.

Ribb are nothing if not generous. The forwards dropped the kick off to cheer the opposition up and then followed a game plan designed to highlight their own weaknesses.

A slow service from the set piece and a flat lying fly half does not make for a comfortable ride.

When it is allied to a brittle back three, it is an accident waiting to happen, and it did.

Although the Ribb front five were not at their best, they were still better than their rivals.

Unfortunately, Ribb did not take advantage of the possession they were securing.

Their attempts to spin the ball wide at every opportunity was perfectly suited to Heath’s counter-attacking side.

The disastrous result of Ribb’s tactics was clearly evident on the scoreboard.

This was best illustrated by the final try scored by the lively Jack Sheldrake. Ribb, who had been rewarded with one penalty try early in the second half. were pressing close to the Heath line.

The home side were struggling to contain them and a try looked a strong possibility, when the ball was plucked from the scrum.

An erratic pass was intercepted and led to a try at the other end of the field for Sheldrake.

It was hard to imagine how Ribb’s front five felt.

They had to trudge back 100 metres to stand under their own posts just seconds after being on the brink of a score. Things could have been so different if Ribb had read the warning signs when they had established their early 8-3 lead.

Heath’s first try from Si Brown came after some particularly weak tackling.

It was followed by another soft try from a line-out when Olly Cook went over to put Heath 13-8 up.

Ribb held on until half-time despite a lot of Heath pressure.

Whatever was said at interval had no effect.

Ribb played the same game which invariably broke down in midfield where a sluggish back row lost a lot of ball.

Heath turned over a midfield ball, moved it quickly right and Sheldrake made the extra man and went over for an unconverted try.

Ribb roused themselves and won a penalty in midfield.

It was kicked to the corner where they forced another penalty for offside.

This time they opted for a scrum and when Heath repeatedly transgressed in a bid to halt their drive, the referee awarded a penalty try.

Ribb were just 18-15 down and were back in the game, but they didn’t capitalise.

It was the time for rational thought and a pragmatic approach, but Ribb hadn’t learned from their earlier shortcomings.

Ribb were on the Heath line and were pushing their scrum back when the ball was again spun out, where it was lost lost in midfield.

Some good passing saw Hare race in under the posts as the Ribb pack were getting up.

This was the game over Hare scored again and then another optimistic Ribb attack saw the ball intercepted to give Heath an easy win.

With Ribb’s second team winning again there will be lots to consider for the selectors ahead of the Ilkley game.

Running the ball at every opportunity requires, fitness, awareness and speed of thought which on Satur- day’s evidence are not available.

Ribb would be better served by identifying their strengths and playing to them.

It would give them a foundation on which to build.

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