Heath 12 North Ribblesdale 15
MICK Thwaite kicked a difficult last-minute penalty to give North Ribblesdale's Yorkshire One survival hopes a big boost with a dramatic victory.
It was the young stand-off's fifth successful kick of hard-fought encounter in which Heath's Ezra Hinchcliffe and Jordan Moana scored the only tries.
Although Ribb failed to score a try, they did have the edge on territory and that gave them the platform for Thwaite to kick his goals.
The pitch was muddy and heavy suiting the big home pack, but Ribb started well in the scrum with Ian Close taking one against the head.
Even though Heath shoved Ribb back off the ball it sent a signal to the home side that the visitors were in no mood to surrender tamely to the division's strongest pack.
Ribb started with Will Thwaite and Will Booth in the second row but it was the arrival of replacement lock Adam Middleton that made a difference.
His strength meant that Ribb kept their shape in the tight which enabled No. 8 Matt Speres to clear the scrum ball.
Ribb spent the first ten minutes probing around the Heath 22 and forced Heath to concede two kickable penalties.
Thwaite landed one and missed another – the only time he was off target in the whole game.
Ribb had an escape when Heath's Luke Saltonstall found space outside the 22. He looked as though he might score until Alex Naylor and Martins Bokiss forced him into touch.
Ribb won the line-out and took play into the Heath half where they almost scored a try.
The home side dropped the ball and Bokiss pounced. He kicked through and narrowly missed the touch down.
When play swung to the other end David Fox made a high tackle and was yellow carded.
Heath put the penalty into Ribb's 22 and comfortably won the line-out before a short pass put Hinchcliffe under the posts for a try which he also converted. This score lifted Heath and they finished the half the stronger side.
Ribb started the second half confidently and hard running by Richard Lynn and Booth forced a penalty which Thwaite kicked.
Ribb were now dominant and kept play in the Heath half. Thwaite's third penalty gave them a 9-7 lead after an hour.
Ribb made their normal error from the restart and Heath turned possession over. Some scrappy play ended when substitute Jordan Moana picked up a loose ball and charged 20 metres for a try.
Ribb drove the kick off deep. A good tackle by Speres on the catcher resulted in the alert John Paddley turning the ball over.
When Heath were caught offside, Thwaite kicked a long penalty from the ten-metre line to level the scores.
Ribb finished the game with a strong last ten minutes.
They had the territory and their pressure brought another penalty wide out on the right. Thwaite made the difficult kick look easy.
Victory was a reward for a good performance which was based on an uncompromising scrum, hard work in the loose by the back row, and a defensive line which was hard for Heath to penetrate.
The man of the match Paddley but Booth was not far behind him.
Ribb are not out of the wood yet but they have jumped three places.
They play Scarborough at home on Saturday and will be looking to ease themselves further away from danger.