Yorkshire Two

Wheatley Hills 31

North Ribblesdale 28

NORTH Ribblesdale travelled to Doncaster to take on old foes Wheatley Hills in a keenly fought contest that ended in a 31-28 loss for the visitors from Craven.

Wheatley's forwards had a two stone a man advantage and with the slope and wind in their favour a difficult first half was expected.

The home side punished Ribb in the tight but Ribb's back row of John Padley, James Tunney, and Kiwi Fromm Reimana were outstanding all afternoon winning the breakdown battle with something to spare.

Wheatley scored three first half tries, the pick of which was a catch in the corner from their flanker Staley following a pinpoint kick by stand-off Butler.

The possession that Ribb got was mainly from the loose and line-out, but the ball was retained excellently and on a couple of forays into the Wheatley 22 many phases of pick and go brought tries from the alert Peter Cook, who dived over from short range, and second rower Adam Middleton.

Michael Thwaite added the extras to make it 19-14 to the home side at the interval.

Ribb's following faithful were hopeful that the second half would bring another victory, but straight from the kick-off disaster struck, a fumble by Ribb and quick thinking from Wheatley, a missed tackle and the home side scored in the corner to take a ten-point lead.

Undeterred, Ribb stormed back down the pitch and in the last quarter number eight Reimana barged over for another close range converted try.

Wheatley restored their advantage through South African centre Mapuso but Ribb came again and Andrew Thwaite finished off some slick handling, and Thwaite again put Ribb within three points with the conversion.

Victory was not to be, although one chance was spurned in the closing moments and the home side scrambled the ball away for a hard-fought win.

This was a titanic contest between two fully committed sides and was arguably Ribb's best performance to date this campaign as they overcame physical adversity with spirit.

The defence was generally excellent with Ryan Sumner looking solid in the middle and two young wingers Omari Kaup-Samuels and Freddie Howarth posing a threat every time they got the ball, which if carried into the next few games will surely get them back to winning ways.

Ribb are at home this Saturday for a quarter-final cup tie against Old Otliensians; and selection will be interesting as some players return.