Yorkshire Two: Four-try Ripon please head coach Ian Hassell

hsb  Ripon v West Park Leeds  (121013M3b)
hsb Ripon v West Park Leeds (121013M3b)
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Four-try Ripon Rugby Club gave new head coach Ian Hassell a first victory of his new regime as with a battling 31-22 win over Sheffield Medicals on Saturday.

After a difficult start to the season at the foot of the Yorkshire Two table last year, Ripon have got off the mark at the second attempt this time around.

Scores from Jason Bell, Ollie Stirk, Rob Harrison and Craig Sykes put Ripon into an unassailable advantage and the students failed to mount a sufficient come back in the final minutes.

“I was very pleased with the performance,” said Hassell.

“It was a much needed win. You just want to get that first win to get the confidence up, especially with there being a few young lads in there as well.

“Hopefully we can take that into next week.”

Following the victory, Hassell will take his new troops on the road to West Leeds this Saturday, looking to build on the solid performance.

However, he will have to replace lock Iain Barker who suffered a broken nose inside the first ten minutes of the Medicals clash.

Hassell hinted that he would select a younger player to replace the experience second rower.

“That was a big loss and he will be hard to replace,” said Hassell. “It’s never easy when you lose someone with experience but it gives someone a chance to step up, possibly another one of the younger players in the squad.”

West Leeds have begun the season with two close-run matches – drawing 6-6 with Moortown before beating Old Rishworthians 34-30 - and Hassell anticipates another close affair.

But the head coach said he would seek an open game to allow his young team to prosper.

He added: “What I have learnt is our style suits an open game than making it a tight one.

“I am another week on and another week closer on how we want to play. It’s all new territory to me on the the sides we come up against but we have to react on the pitch to what their tactics and strengths are.”
On Saturday, evergreen full-back Bell opened Ripon’s account after Rob Harrison’s initial 20-yard break, which Ken Davey converted.

Stirk then doubled the try-count with a clever dummy to cross unopposed, and Davey again tucked over the kick.

Quick hands then saw Harrison score, with the Medics down to 14, just before the break, with Davey adding another two.

After the break Ripon continued with intensity and Sykes ran over from 30 metres out, to the delight of the Mallorie Park faithful.

The Medics launched a comeback as their fitness told, but, despite scoring three tries in quick succession, a penalty from Stirk, Ripon’s man of the match, put the score out of reach of the South Yorkshiremen.