Yorkshire Division Three: Northallerton 41 Skipton 0

SKIPTON made the trip to Northallerton after an enforced lay-off due to the weather and reserve weekends and gave a more creditable performance against the league leaders than the scoreline might suggest.

Absences through illness and injury gave back row forwards Harry Maltby and Gareth Atkinson and prop Aaron Tattersall-Jarvis starting places, with prop Tom Allsop coming off the bench in the second half. All four did justice to their selection and made a positive contribution throughout.

All three Willsher brothers, Rick, Malc and John, played the full 80 minutes, with John being a strong contender for man of the match for Skipton with his high work rate and strong running in the centre.

The home side kicked off up the slope but the ball went straight out and Skipton had the restart scrum. Scrum half Lee Neha put the ball down field, the Skipton forwards won the line-out and coach Craig Bartlett, starting at stand-off, pinned Northallerton back twice more, using the sloping pitch to good advantage. It was an encouraging start which settled the nerves of the travelling Skipton supporters.

A Northallerton incursion was ended by a knock-on, following excellent defensive play by Skipton winger James Akers, but a high tackle in the next phase of play gave Northallerton a penalty. They tapped and ran. The ball went down the line and a tackle was brushed aside for the home side's first converted try.

From the restart the Northallerton number 10 returned the kick into Skipton's 22 but a missed catch put the home side's left wing over for try number two.

Skipton hooker Charlie Brown was unlucky to be penalised for a very marginal foot-up at the next scrum but the penalty put Northallerton back into Skipton's 22. The ball went to ground from the line-out but a jinking run and hack through by the home side's scrum half gave them their third try. The conversion attempt was successful. Skipton replied with great forward work from second row Malc Willsher and prop Chris Wright but, dishearteningly for the visitors, Northallerton secured a fourth break-away try against the run of play and the sides turned round at 24-0.

Skipton started the second period with a long-range penalty kick into the corner, but a downfield clearance by the home side put their winger clear for try number five.

Skipton maintained their robust forward play, taking Northallerton on at every breakdown but the home side backs were the sharper and their stand-off soon had another try.

As the mist deepened, Tom Allsop came on to bolster the Skipton pack. Luke Currie, this week starting at Number 8, took the ball tirelessly to the Northallerton forwards but slipped in the muddy conditions and twisted his knee ten minutes from time. Chris Wright took to the field again to replace him.

Despite a further unconverted try by the home side, Skipton did not give up and played their strong forward game to the final whistle.