FRIDAY evening saw the culmination of the National Challenge Three North (west) league come to a conclusion when the Roses travelled to Settle to play North Ribblesdale Ladies.

Both clubs had promoted the match on social media and it was fantastic to see over 250 supporters out to watch and they weren’t disappointed to a cracking game of rugby, which North Ribblesdales edged with the final play of the game.

The Roses, lead by Number eight captain Lottie Knowles and vice captain centre Freya Baggaley got off to the better start and the first 15 minutes were spent in the Ribb 22 metres.

Strong carries by the forwards of Esme Davies, Kim Chapman, Amy Linnagan, Sally Plum, Racheal Cleminson, Eleanor Mann and Danika Cowgill, kept play going towards the tryline. The forwards secured the ball and scrum half Kirsty Weir, showing her composure and immense improvement over the season by putting in a player of the match performance, controlling the forwards and distributing to the backs when the opportunity was open. With the loss of the Roses normal captain Liv Schepisi due to covid (a gentle reminder covid is still with us and still to take precautions) Sarah Pate stepped in at half fly and put in a sterling performance. The Roses were first to score when from a lineout and several pick and goes, Knowles got over. Pate missed the conversion. From the restart Ribb started to click and put the ball through the hands which took them into the Roses 22.

They kept possession very well and by putting width on the ball to both touchlines, gaps appeared in the Roses defence and Ribb centre Sarah Hargreaves found a gap and touched down for Ribbs first try. From the restart Ribb continued to apply the pressure and the Roses were soon reduced to 14 players when their vice captain Baggaley was placed in the sin bin. Ribb took advantage of this and soon Hargreaves was over for her second try. The conversion was missed and Ribb lead 10-5.

The Roses brought on forward Charlotte Fryatt who had a immediate impact with her trademark carries. The Roses tried to work the ball wide and left winger Steph Roe made a fine run in field. As Baggaley returned from the sin bin, winger Claire Ball replaced Roe. The Roses shipped the ball to the Roses right winger Nicola Marklew who made a fine break down the right, Weir continued the momentum with good distribution to Flanker Cowgill who took play into the Ribb 22. Another good carry by second rower Plum with the next phase of play, resulted in a penalty to the Roses in front of the posts. Pate took the three points and the half came to an end. 10-8 in favour of Ribb.

The second half got underway and both teams started to play a more structured game, with the forwards making the hard yards before it was put through the hands of the backs. It was only resolute defence by both sets of backs which prevent either team adding to the score. It took strong running from Roses centre Jennie Hoggatt to break the stalemate which started in the Roses half after a kick from Ribb. Fullback Courteney Pearson collected the ball and ran the ball back to the her forwards and into the Ribb half.

Good recycling allowed the forwards to keep the pressure on and make ground towards the Ribb 22. Another strong run by flanker Mann, and the ball was shipped to Knowles. Knowles passed to Hoggatt who avoided the would be tacklers and with winger Lisa Bickerton in support Hoggatt was able to touchdown. Pate missed the conversion and the Roses took a slim 13-10 lead. Ribb came straight back at the Roses with centres Hargreaves and Pippa Chamley breaking the Roses first line of defence and were unlucky not to score.

15 minutes into the second half the Roses were again reduced to 14 players. With the numeric advantaged Ribb continued to ply the pressure on the Roses tryline and the Roses spent seven minutes defending their own tryline and excellent discipline and pure grit and determination prevented Ribb scoring.

Kerys Hey replaced Hoggatt in the centres and made a try saving tackle. As the game came to an end, Ribb were able to get over the tryline, however referee Aaron Berry adjudged the ball was held up. To the cheering Skipton supporters it appeared the game was over, however the referee indicate there was time for the goal line drop out. From the drop out Ribb regained possession and as the clock turned red they put the ball through the hands and Chamley was able to score and seal the victory for Ribb with the final play of the game., 15-13 to Ribb (FT).

The game showcased grassroots rugby at it best. The large crowd were entertained for the full 70 minutes and it kept both sets of supporters on the edge of their seats right upto the final whistle. Every player that has taken to the pitch this season can be enormously proud of what they have achieved and how much they have developed and leant through their first season. Women’s Rugby in the Craven District is in a strong position.