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Skipton youngsters show promise, despite heavy defeat
Buy this photo » Luke Stockton finds his run halted by two Leeds Medics & Dentists players
Skipton 0, Leeds Medics & Dentists 34
Skipton, who had a crop of unavailabilities, failed to score a point against promotion-chasing Leeds Medics and Dentists, but they could take something longer term from the SSE Yorkshire Division Three match.
Without experienced fly half Darren Howson, who picked up a shoulder injury against Hemsworth, No 8 Sam Harrison, who is soon to go Down Under, and second row Daryl Swales, whose other half was about to give berth, Skipton were able to give opportunites to others.
Alex Baldwin was brought in at fly half, and played well, Ben Jeffrey was at full back and youngsters Redver Stork-Flatley and Will Pennett on the wings, James Ackers switching from wing to centre and Stephen Cuthbert returning to the bench.
The half-time score was only 12-0, Skipton having conceded two tries and a conversion, but Leeds Medics added three more tries and a conversion in the second half.
Best for the hosts were Baldwin, young hooker Charlie Brown and centre Luke Stockton.
Meanwhile, Skipton Seconds went down 62-12 at Bradford Salem Thirds in the Aire-Wharfe West Merit Table.
Unfamiliar conditions greeted the Skipton team on their final outing before the Christmas break.
For a change, there wasn’t the stormy showers or sleet that have happened previously. Instead, it was fine but windy afternoon.
Skipton, who only managed to get 15 men due to festive commitments, quickly put a game-plan together – a very tight in-your-face-type of game.
Salem, who are flying high in the table, started the stronger and quickly put the reds on the back foot, with their forwards carrying the ball hard combined with the speed of their young back line.
But something, which has been lacking in the bellies of the Skipton side was different here – they kept getting their heads back up and started competing in every tackle, set-piece and 50-50 ball.
The tight five had their best game of the season in the scrum, with the welcomed addition of the returning Matt Jenkinson, whose bull-like charges were a pleasure to watch.
But Salem continued to recycle quick, clean ball and gave their young winger time and space to execute a couple more scores, leaving the visitors trailing 29-0 at half-time.
It was a different Skipton that took to the field on the restart, and they started hunting their prey in packs of threes and fours.
They got a driving maul got a driving maul going with Greaves and Jenkinson at the heart of it, and with veteran Kev Bottomley pulling the forwards’ strings like a conductor performing a musical, belief and confidence started to grow.
From a crossfield kick by fly half Matt Hewitt, Skipton turned over the Salem player chasing the kick.
A ‘box’ kick from Greaves then found Gaz Atkinson, who collected and fell over the line.
A rattled Salem then began to argue with each other and with the referee, but Skipton, on the whole, showed great team discipline.
Despite this, Salem dominated the final 20 minutes, adding a number of quick tries, chiefly when Skipton gave away penalties.
However, Hewitt did add a poacher’s try after loads of pressure on the Salem line, and he also converted.
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