Yarnbury 8

North Ribblesdale 15

by Andrew Mills

AN early lead helped North Ribblesdale to an away win at Yarnbury on Saturday.

Ribb were quickly out of the blocks to race into a 15-point lead when after eight minutes after Freddy Howarth used his devastating pace to race over from within his own half with Mick Thwaite kicking a difficult conversion.

Ten minutes later Jonny Moore put Omari Kaup-Samuels away on the right for him to power over from 50 yards with Mick Thwaite hitting the bar with a difficult conversion. He soon made amend with a well struck penalty on 20 minutes.

At that point Ribb looked as though they were going to get 50. But they did not move the ball wide again and the next 50 minutes was a turgid demonstration of the futility of running into a packed midfield defence.

This season Ribb's handling has improved markedly, but at Yarnbury it went back to last season's bash it up the middle. This made the game an arm wrestle which was the only area that Yarnbury could compete, their pack being substantially bigger than Ribb's.

After 20 minutes Yarnbury looked a demoralised beaten side, but Ribb's tactics gave Yarnbury a lifeline.

Moore and Matt Speres were getting very slow ball and could not release their wingers; the longer the game went the better Yarnbury relished the midfield battle which suited their big forwards.

Ribb have the best seven in the league in John Padley who is very quick to the breakdown, but this advantage was nullified by creating the breakdown in the middle of the pitch close to the home pack.

As it was, Ribb struggled to get any decent quick ball. Their cause was not helped by a yellow card for Speres and another to sub Ryan Sumner it seems every week Ribb are playing a quarter of the game with 14 men.

Ribb's substitutions did not help, Kaup-Samuels suffered an knee injury and left the pitch. Jim Tunney, an excellent back row, was put on the wing, ten minutes later Ray Fromm, a solid experienced number eight, was moved to the flank from this critical tactical important position to make way for a centre.

Ribb were playing with a centre at number eight and a back row on the wing. Also Adam Middleton was substituted, taking off the biggest forward who is also the fastest after Padley.

During the second yellow card, Yarnbury, after a series of attacks on the Ribb line, went over for an unconverted try and shortly after they kicked a penalty to put them seven points behind Ribb.

Ribb then had a series of scrums on the Yarnbury line but despite shoving Yarnbury back, they were told by the referee they must move the ball. It would seem that the pushover try is a thing of the past.

In the last minute, Ribb were awarded a penalty from 40 yards out. If they had simply kicked to ball straight off the game would have been over, but instead they kicked to the corner in an attempt to score a try from the line-out.

An extra try for Ribb would have not given them any more points, and luckily Ribb secured the ball and Peter Cook sensibly kicked the ball off to end the game.

Ribb won this game and played the worst they have this season. If they can increase the tempo and get the ball wide few sides could live with them. As it was, they played a game which suited Yarnbury's big pack down to the ground.

There were plusses, Adam Middleton is big and quick and had a good game, both wingers played very well and while an unsatisfactory game it was an away win.

Ribb will play Ripon at home this Saturday.