‘Nearly but not quite’ Ripon lose seventh match on the trot

Ripon RUFC's Dudley Stead (Picture by Bob Turner)
Ripon RUFC's Dudley Stead (Picture by Bob Turner)
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First team manager Bob Champion believes opposition teams have sussed out the skill of Ripon Rugby Club’s South African stars after the club fell to a seventh straight defeat.

Winger Joe Mpyana and forward Dudley Stead have been Ripon’s stand-out players this season, but they could not stop Ripon subsiding 17-10 defeat against Leodiensian at Mallorie Park on Saturday.

And Champion feels other teams are thwarting Ripon’s best attacking options.

On the holidaying pair, he said: “The opposition have clearly done their homework on how dangerous these guys have been and are targeting them for intense treatment.

“Joe Mpyana has rarely got enough space to use his pace. Dudley has been our stand-out forward this year but if he doesn’t have enough people around him to support, he’s made to look quite ordinary.

“We are coming up consistently against bigger forwards. They are bigger, stronger and more mobile than us.”

Saturday’s defeat characterised Ripon’s losing run, which dates back to September.

Four of such losses have been by less than seven points, and once again, Ripon provided a resistant defence against a dominant team.

Leos scored three tries with the hosts just managing the one – scored by Stead when he barrelled over from a five metre scrum.

On why Ripon lost, Champion said: “We didn’t score enough points. Commitment was strong but not consistent so we just couldn’t string together much in the way of phases of play.

“It was quite a disjointed performance with good defence as we were under pressure for quite a bit of the game.

“We kept it down to three tries but we weren’t able to step up in the attack.”

Despite the poor run of form, the Blues remain outside of the Yorkshire Two relegation zone in 11th.

This weekend, Moortown welcome head coach Ian Hassall’s troops and the Leeds side are in prime form despite lying below Ripon in the table.

Saturday’s hosts were handed a 20-point deduction at the start of the season but are gradually climbing the table with five win out of ten games thus far.

“They are on a roll,” added Champion. “Their performances have been driven by the fact they started with a 20 points deduction and they know they have to win every game to get out of the relegation zone.

“They are smashing their way up the table. It’s always a difficult place to go to and they will be a big, strong team as well.