Heath 33 North Ribblesdale 12

NORTH Ribblesdale were made to pay for a poor start as they found themselves 26-0 down in the opening 20 minutes.

They conceded three tries – the first in the opening minute – and it left them with an uphill battle in their battle to claw away from the Yorkshire One relegation zone.

It said a lot for their character that they didn’t subside to a heavier defeat. After weathering the early storm, they put Heath under pressure during the remainder of the match.

Their efforts were hampered by a groin injury to Matt Speres, the award of a second half try when the ball was clearly out of play and they saw two goal kicks hit the woodwork.

Heath clearly enjoyed the muddy conditions more than the visitors and made the most of an early turnover when Ribb were slow to support a 30-metre break by Speres.

Jason Merrie seized the ball and fed the supporting Alex McFadden before Jack Crabtree saw the space to put Jordan Brabrook in for a try which Ezra Hinchliffe converted.

The kick off was poor and the powerful Richard Brown rumbled forward before Hinchliffe put in a massive clearance into open space. Callum Harriet-Brown set off in chase and won the race to the touchdown.

Ribb might have guessed this was not going to be their day when their penalty attempt rebounded back into play and Heath set off on a sweeping move which ultimately led to Hinchliffe scoring the third try which he also converted.

The visitors attacked from the restart but could not penetrate the defence. Another turnover set them back on their heels and prop Peter Birkett sidestepped his way over for the bonus-point try. Hinchliffe added the extras for a 26-0 lead.

Ribb showed character by getting back into the game and were rewarded when a spell of pressure saw Richard Wood dive over in the corner as Heath ran out of defensive cover.

Ribb started the second half on the offensive and scored first with David Fox scoring a try which was converted by Mick Thwaite.

Heath responded with a dubious try when a kick which appeared to have gone dead was touched down by Sam Pollard and a try was awarded.

Ribb enjoyed their best period of the game as the big home pack tired. They won the forward exchanges but simply did not have enough bite to turn possession into points.

The pick of the Ribb players were the front row who eventually got on top of a much bigger opponents. The back row of Wood, Speres and the excellent John Padley worked hard and there were flickers of promise from Fox, Ryan Sumner and Omari Kaup-Samuels.