A bright, spring-ish day welcomed Wharfedale 3rds to Ripon for their first encounter of the season. Ripon were a big side with numerous capable ball carriers and we knew we had to start strongly to try to negate this threat. We had a mixed week with selection but managed to field 16 and a half men (Tom Mann, unable to travel to Tynedale with work commitments joined us mid way through the first half). Numerous lads had to play out of position as we were short on backs so Bods moved to scrum half and back rowers Luke Craven and Tom Wareing formed a robust centre pairing.
We started strongly and took on the expected Ripon threat head on with good carries and front foot ball with props Walker and Huck setting the tone. Bradley Viner (another man unable to make the Tynedale trip) was looking very strong and threatening on the wing and causing Ripon problems but it was JD who snook through first to score and added the extras to give us a 7-0 lead.
The next score came after Wareing, running strongly in the centre, decided to chip through and surprisingly managed to regather his own kick then had the pace and power to score. JD was on target again, 14-0.
A solid scrum platform laid the foundation for the next score. The ball was whipped out to the right where Viner with half a field to go showed his pace and power that has made him a 2nd team regular all season. JD was wayward but a healthy 19-0 lead.
A good break down the left wing was looking promising but the ball was lost and Ripon had other ideas. They gathered the ball and sprinted through a confused defender or two to score. 19-7 This was then followed by another try for the hosts. A number 8 pick from an attacking scrum went through a couple of weak tackle efforts to crash over and reduce the defecit to 19-14.
Wharfedale responded well and closed out the half strongly. They re-found their attacking prowess and re-took control of the game. The ball was well worked up to the 22 and then came out to the right. With the line in such close proximity, JD was never going to pass and he crashed over for his second. Conversion succesful, 26-14
We started the second half strongly. Jim Bowers who looked refreshed for his 3 weeks off was carrying well and came close to sneaking a try himself but we recycled and the ball was fed wide through Craven to Arkwright. The seal then slithered through to score. JD on target again, 33-14.
Ripon were next on the attack but a turnover gave the visitors relief and more so by the distance JD got on his clearance kick. Penned in their own 22 and under pressure, Ripon won a scrappy lineout but made a real hash of the clearance kick. It was easily fielded by JD who fed scrum half Bods who’s belied his less than athletic appearance and slid past the Ripon defence for a great individual score. JD nudged the extras. 40-14.
As the game came to a close, we lost our shape a little as often happens with a decent lead and Ripon, to their credit were far from done. The added two more tries to take the final score to 40-28.
The game was called a little short of time due to a leg injury to a Ripon player who we wish a speedy recovery and also to Sam Arkwright who had to leave the field for Wharfedale with a bad knock on the head.
Team: – James Huck, Jock (Cabbages mate from Otley), Thomas Walker, Tom Whitehead, Jim Bowers, Jake Starkey, Tom Baines (c), Dan Benson, Michael Beer, Jonny Davies, Bradley Viner, Luke Craven, Tom Wareing, Mark Tywang, Sam Arkwright.
Subs: – Paul Marklew, Tom Mann.
Tries: – Davies (2), Wareing, Viner, Arkwright, Beer.
Cons: _ Davies (5).