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 2008.03.22.Ripon 3rds 254

With the 1st XV having no game and the 2nd XV match at Aireborough being called off due to the weather, ‘Ensians B were lucky to have spare players to cover for holiday absences. Prop Peter Bonner, flanker Collum Hanogue and centre Lee O’Donnell stepped up to help fill gaps and, as Ripon arrived with only 11 players, No.8 Rob Arbuckle, centre Andy Hayward, winger Dan Garnett and flanker Richard Paley sportingly volunteered to play for the opposition.

What ensued was a very entertaining game of rugby with the result in doubt until 10 minutes from the end. The hosts started strongly with experienced half backs Peter Tempest and Peter Gilson directing operations to take play up to the visitors’ line. After a series of good forward drives the ball was spun wide for winger Tom Broadbent to go over in the corner after 8 minutes. The conversion failed.

With Alan Garnett dominating the lineout and the scrum producing quick ball, the home backs were causing problems for the Ripon defence. Centres Lee O’Donnell and Sam Gray made good ground and the back row of Jason Stebbins, Alan Garnett and Collum Hanogue was on hand to set up a series of drives on the visitors’ line. Despite strong defence, lock Chris Howells battled his way over half way out and the conversion by Gilson lifted the score to 12 – 0 after 20 minutes.

‘Ensians were well on top at this stage and the ball was moved wide at every opportunity. Good handling saw winger Steve Lofthouse cut through to score to extend the home side’s lead to 17 – 0 after 25 minutes. At this stage, Ripon began to put some good passages of play together and suddenly, ‘Ensians were defending. Loaned player Andy Hayward, playing in the unfamiliar position of fly half, swerved through to score near the posts to put the visitors on the scoreboard. As half time approached some fine inter-passing by the home backs allowed centre Sam Gray to round the cover and score in the corner. Replacement kicker Andy Wood landed the difficult conversion to give the home side a 24 – 5 lead.

At the break, Ray Drake came on for Bonner and Toby Baltrop replaced the injured Tempest for the home side. From the kick-off, the Ripon pack immediately set up some good drives with guest Rob Arbuckle in the lead and after only two minutes good backing up produced their second try. For the next ten minutes, the visitors continued to attack with their pacey full back coming into the line to put his winger over wide out. With no conversions, the score was now 24 – 15 after 55 minutes with Ripon very much in the ascendancy.

Skipper Alan Garnett rallied his troops and some solid forward play by prop Adam Mudd, hooker Steve Robinson and locks Wood and Howells steadied the ship. Both sides then began developing good attacking moves through their backs. Excellent handling by ‘Ensians saw wingers Steve Lofthouse and Tom Broadbent both come close. A superb try then followed which was started off by Gilson in his own half. Broadbent made good ground before passing inside to centre Gray who beat two defenders before unloading to O’Donnell to finish off the move. The conversion by Wood extended the ‘Ensians’ lead to 31 – 15 and relieved the pressure.

The final ten minutes saw both sides playing fast open rugby, but it was Otliensians’ full back Sean Flesher backing up well who drove through for the final try. With no conversion, this made the final score 36 – 15 to ‘Ensians. Both sides can take credit for an entertaining game played in an excellent spirit.

Report supplied by John Harrison.