Two late tries earned Ripon a crucial first win of the Yorkshire Two season with a 37-22 success over Moortown at Mallorie Park on Saturday.
Tom Newby and Harry Cleary both ran in scores in the latter stages of the match at Mallorie Park to overturn the visitors’ advantage and move Ripon out of the relegation places.
The first half was a pretty dour affair with both sides sizing each other up.
The Ripon scrum was creaking from the outset and within three minutes an offence gave the visitors the opportunity to kick for territory.
The line out saw a predictable catch and drive and only a try-saving tackle by Callum Findlay kept the scoreboard clean.
On 10 minutes, a similar situation arose and from a penalty line out, Moortown’s catch and drive progressed 20 metres over the whitewash and a try was awarded, despite Ripon claims of a knock-on. The following conversion attempt drifted wide.
Some lively exchanges followed in which Moortown probed through backs and forwards and Ripon defended resolutely.
Ripon pressed as far as a line out on the visitors’ five metre line, but a miscommunication saw the pressure relieved.
On the half hour, flying Ripon back Ben Buckley was cynically taken out of an attacking move, which saw the Moortown number eight yellow carded and Richard Hooks offered his first penalty attempt, which went over with ease.
The next few minutes were all Ripon, with probing runs and driving play pushing Moortown onto the back foot.
Ripon’s opening try arrived on 35 minutes and came from a defensive scrum on their own 5m line. The Blues recovered possession and through the efforts of Mark Spilman, and Cleary, who made some 70 metres progress, passed on to Euan Findlay to cross the line, Hooks adding the conversion.
The remaining minutes of the first half fizzled out for Ripon, with Moortown seeking to keep in touch. A long probing kick saw a defensive touchdown by Ripon and another 5m scrum was awarded.
Moortown needed no second invitation to trundle over the line, with their number eight scoring from the pushover on his return to the field.
The second half promised to be entertaining, with a score line of 12-10 to the Leeds visitors.
From the kick off, a superb hanging kick from Hooks caused sufficient confusion for the recipients to hand the ball back to Ripon.
Newby broke right and passed to Cleary, into the line from his wing, who floated a perfectly timed pass for Buckley to weave through the last two defenders and score Ripon’s second try, which went unconverted.
Not wishing to roll over, Moortown sought to get a grip on the game again and within four minutes of the restart, they had another pushover try from a penalty 5m scrum, which was converted.
The home team upped their efforts in defence and their constant sniping and ball retention paid off, with another release into space of the young backs, which saw Buckley run in his fourth try of the season. The conversion went wide again.
Moortown pushed back again and their trip into Ripon’s half saw a penalty goal attempt converted.
However, Ripon found great resolve in the final stages and went on to claim victory with successive tries from youngsters Newby and Cleary.
Hooks converted one and added a further penalty goal on the final whistle to complete a 15-point triumph for the Blues.
Ripon team manager Bob Champion said: “Ripon rose to the challenge and still with an average age of just 24, the team showed not only an emphatic endorsement of the current policy to play under 18s in adult teams, but also, what the team can do when everyone applies themselves.
“This performance was one in which every point was won fairly and squarely, through the application of a consistently positive attitude, belief in everyone’s ability to play as part of a team and the courage to step up in the face of a huge challenge.”