SKIPTON made the best possible start to the New Year with a 21-12 win away at third placed Wheatley Hills on Saturday.

It means the side from North Yorkshire remain in 8th place in Counties Three Yorkshire, while they sit four points off Thirsk who occupy 7th spot in the division.

On Saturday, Skipton immediately put the home side under pressure in their own 22 with some ferocious tackling in the first five minutes.

Skipton then drove Wheatley Hills off the ball in the first scrum of the game and gained a penalty. The kick was unsuccessful, and the visitors then suffered a further set back with skipper Josh Nkwo having to retire with a shoulder injury sustained from his first tackle of the game. He was replaced by Miff Smith.

Skipton soon put this behind them and a superb interception by winger Johnny Tomes-Green in the next phase of open play saw him over for the opening points of the game. He added the extras himself.

This stirred Wheatley Hills into action and they piled the pressure on the away side, including a long range penalty into the corner from which they gained their first try from a rolling maul from the line-out. The conversion attempt went wide.

Swift hands down the line from winger Hamish Munro's catch, return and off-load saw full-back Luther Hall score Skipton's second try at pace. Tomes-Green again added the extras.

The North Yorkshire outfit looked clear again with a well worked move down the left wing by centre Anthony Chapman and Tomes-Green but interference off the ball ended the play. Wheatley Hills received a yellow card for the offence and Skipton went into the break with a 14-5 lead.

Ex-Yorkshire Colt Joe Hayes, at No. 8, picked up a nasty ankle injury ten minutes into the second half and had to leave the field, being replaced by Joe Moorhouse. Wheatley Hills again turned on the pressure and camped in Skipton's 22. They gained a penalty for the visitors going over the top in the ruck and were over for their second try. The conversion attempt was good and Skipton lead by just two points at 14-12.

The side in 8th regained their composure and began working down field, but a penalty to the home side saw them back into the corner. Dogged defence by Skipton kept Wheatley Hills at bay but they received a penalty within kickable range with just five minutes to go. The kick went wide, and Chapman made a great catch and return down field.

Wheatley Hills turned the ball over at the ruck but a phenomenal interception by Munro saw him run the length of the field to secure the game for Skipton with try number three. Tomes-Green added the extras and the visitors came away with a 21-12 victory.

This Saturday they welcome Barnsley to North Yorkshire and they’ll be eager to put further distance between themselves and the side from South Yorkshire with another victory.