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North Ribblesdale's paper-thin resilience is shown in crushing loss at York
York 47, North Ribblesdale 5
This was Ribb’s worst forward performance in several years, the front five exhibiting a very low level of commitment.
The writing was on the wall after five minutes of their SSE Yorkshire Division One match last Saturday when the smallest man on the field, Hayden Viles, had put in three tackles on the big York forwards after they had swatted off the Ribb front five’s ineffectual efforts.
It did not take a genius to work out how to get ahead against Ribb – run at the big men; they don't want to know.
If it wasn’t for Viles and his back line’s defence, a very ugly scoreline would have been horrific.
The primary possession from Ribb was slow. Even Viles’s reliable service was under pressure in the scrum, but, despite this, the back line looked dangerous with Simon Bolland making an early break to put Ben Mitchell in, Jonathan Richard’s well-struck conversion just drifting wide.
This gave Ribb an early lead after full back Jon Dawes’ early penalty. It took York ten minutes to realise that it would be easier to tackle the soft middle rather than Ribb’s wide defence.
They pumped men through onto Viles. He’d knock them down but they off-loaded to lock Chris Fox, who would make for another tackler for a simple offload to outflank Ribb’s defence.
York did this at regular intervals to score tries by centres Billy Cakaunitabua and Sam Potrykus and James Ward to put the hosts 20-5 ahead at half-time.
If it wasn’t for errant goal-kicking and the defensive display of the Ribb backline, it would have been a lot worse.
In the first half, Ribb put phases together twice. On the first occasion they scored, and on the second Bolland came very close.
A 15-point deficit is not a lot with a seven-point converted try but the supine Ribb front five did not show an ounce of fight to give their potent backs the space they needed.
The home back row were on the front foot and won all the 50-50 ball. They would set this up and roll off through the tissue paper before being halted by Ribb’s back line and they would offload when they had dragged in enough men to create an overlap.
Second row David Bates got two and scrum half Tom Boyle and left winger Hugh Nicholson got one each to finish on 47 points, which by no means flattered them.
This was a comprehensive thrashing which could have been a lot worse but for Ribb’s backline.
There was a welcome return from Will Davidson, who came on at centre and showed, with limited ball, good footwork.
Ribb were without last week’s starting second row but the problem is with the settled – too settled – members of the pack.
They do a bit in the scrum and line out and amble about. It was just good enough against Knottingley and Brods but it was nowhere near good enough at York, and will not be against anyone else.
Added to a sin-binning every game, it makes it difficult for a very talented backline, who the forwards do not deserve.
* Ribb’s unbeaten second team had another good win over a big Keighley side, the five tries all being converted by Michael Thwaite. Ribb dominated the game, with good passing and support giving their back line space to dominate.
The scoring was opened by Mick Bargh and the talented John Padley scored after a break by Ashley Whates.
James Wallbank powered in, and good following-up by Andrew Thwaite and Josh Harris got them over.
The backline looked good, with Peter Cook supplying Michael Thwaite with the ball to release a powerful back line. Some are pressing for first-team rugby.