Director of rugby Ian Hassall admitted a lack of experience was the difference as his Ripon side came ever so close to gate-crashing high-flying Roundhegians’ party on Saturday.
Ripon finished one converted score behind their well-established Leeds visitors to collect a losing bonus point from the Mallorie Park contest.
However, the Blues coach Hassall was left ruing an opportunity to turn over one of Yorkshire Two’s best sides as he blamed a lack of patience from his young squad in the opposition’s final third.
“There wasn’t a lot in it,” he told the Gazette.
“We went down to 14 men late on, and they got a score.
“In the last third, they controlled their possession a little more and were a bit more patient with it.
“We were trying to score in three or four phases, and we just need to be a little bit more patient. It will come for us, we proved that against Pontefract last month.”
Roundhegians piled on the pressure to keep Ripon in their own half for almost the entire first ten minutes of the game. Comfortable on and off the ball, the visitors looked to exploit the short yards and gain territory incrementally.
Whether it was nerves, or pressure, many of Ripon’s early exchanges ended in unforced errors, however, the Blues established an early dominance in the scrum.
And having defended resolutely, Ripon broke the deadlock on 15 minutes when Ben Buckley calmly intercepted a floated pass and sprinted a full 50 metres. Tim Tombling effortlessly added the conversion into the wind.
Roundhegians started to piece together some enterprising plays that continued to stretch Ripon’s defences and with their driving maul improving, they used it to dramatic effect in creating opportunities for two tries before half time, one of which was converted.
The conditions worsened for both teams following the restart and as the light faded, the pitch cut up badly.
Only two events graced the scoreboard in the second half: a further try from the visitors and a penalty from Tombling.
Despite a number of extended and cohesive attacks from Ripon, either the defence held firm, or mistakes were made.
No effort however was withheld by Ripon to a man, as they stepped up in both attack and defence to give the visitors a run for their money.
Depleted to 14 men for much of the last quarter for indiscretions by two Ripon players, the weight of numbers showed through in the end for Roundhegians, who maintained their lead until the final whistle.
“The frustrating part is that going into the game, we would have taken a point and been happy. But having seen the game, the opportunity was there for us to take it,” Hassall added.
“A little bit more experience and we could have had the win.”