NORTH Ribblesdale enjoyed a positive opening to 2023, defeating highflyers Baildon 43-26 in their first home fixture of the year.

The visitors started brightly with flashy full back Duxbury touching down to give the visitors an early seven-point lead. Ribb’s forwards then began to exert pressure in all aspects of forward play and tries by Adam Stubbs from a rolling maul, and the effervescent Frankie Brown scampered over from 30 yards to give the hosts a 14 - 12 interval lead.

Playing towards the large and vociferous crowd in the second half, Ribb began to take control once again with Matty Close dominant in the scrum.

 He was ably supported by the improving Jim Malilue-Black and collectively the Ribb forwards proved to be a real handful. Second row Adam Middleton broke away on the halfway line and stretched his legs to such an extent that none of the Baildon speed merchants could catch him.

 Further tries from Alex Dew and teenagers Oliver Drew and the elusive Ben Coultherd completed the scoring. John Davidson kicked five from six conversions and Will Davidson adding a long range penalty. Ribb got two yellow cards in the last ten minutes which allowed Baildon a couple of consolation tries.

However, this was arguably Ribb’s best league performance of the season having come up against a side vying for promotion.After several years of decline, this youthful Ribb team is looking upwards and the future is beginning to look rosy.