York 13 North Ribblesdale 16
North Ribblesdale gave their Kiwi player-coach Hayden Viles a winning send off at a ground where they have enjoyed little success in recent years.
The scrum half should take happy memories of his 18 months at Grove Park back to New Zealand.
His final game saw Ribb transformed from the previous week’s drab defeat by Pontefract as they beat a side pushing for promotion.
Ribb started strongly with their forwards carrying the ball with purpose and recycling efficiently.
This meant the backs had go-forward ball which was used to attack the York defence with enthusiasm.
Steven Moon, who was to have a big impact on the day’s events, kicked slow first-phase ball into the corners and the eager chase kept the pressure on the home team.
Ribb’s defence was to be the telling factor in the game.
York used the slope well in the first half with their fly half kicking well for position. The home side were keen to utilise the drive from the line-out which had served them so well when the sides met earlier in the season.
The visitors could do little to prevent a well organised York line-out winning its own ball, but this dull tool was blunted by Ribb’s aggressive defence.
It meant that York were not to profit directly from this area of the game. They also missed two long-range penalty attempts.
York then decided that their wingers were to provide them with their best chance of winning the game, and indeed they were quick, but their centres, under pressure from Jonathan Richards and Jonny Moore, couldn’t feed the outside backs or make any headway themselves.
The York backline regularly conceded turn over ball under pressure.
On one occasion Simon Bolland gathered the ball well inside his own half and headed on up the pitch before slipping a pass to the supporting Moon.
As the cover closed in on him, he made the final ten metres to the posts. Moon converted for a 7-0 lead.
Ribb put themselves under pressure in the second half with a line-out that misfired at times, but their scrum remained dominant.
The middle 20 minutes of the second half saw the hosts enjoy their best period of the game as they scored two tries.
The first saw York use a line-out drive to pull in the defence. Two quick rucks and a crisp back movement put their left winger in around the edge of a stretched Ribb defence.
A penalty and another unconverted try created by a missed tackle on the blindside, left Ribb trailing 13-7.
From the restart Ribb put pressure on the receiver and recovered the ball.
A renewed vigour seemed to run through the team and this increased endeavour yielded two penalties, one for a ruck infringement and the other for a collapsed scrum.
Moon kicked both penalties and at 13-13 the final stages of the game saw both sides trying to achieve enough field position and pressure to earn a kickable penalty to win the game.
With four minutes of injury time played and the referee indicating the last play of the game, York had their chance.
The York fly half did not have enough range for this 45-metre effort and handed the kicking duties over to the hooker.
A hushed crowd watched the kick go up, it didn’t seem to have the distance.
As the ball came down just in front of the right post, Ethan Henare fielded it and made his way to the 22.
Bolland and Moon carried the move over halfway before York were penalised as Ribb looked to win quick ruck ball.
Moon cheered his own penalty as soon as he had struck it. It flew over the posts from 30 metres and Ribb had snatched victory.
It brought to an end an evenly contested game of rugby in which Ribb gained revenge for a game stolen from under their noses at Settle earlier in the season.
Victory was sweet for Moon who has been criticised in the past for his run-at-all-costs rugby. He chose his options perfectly applying pressure with his boot when necessary, releasing his backline fluently and defending with full commitment as ever.
It was a great way to say farewell to coach Viles.