An unhappy New Year was the order of the day for Ripon RUFC after dropping to second bottom in Yorkshire Two on Saturday.
Ripon were only able to score one penalty as they fell to a 25-3 defeat against high-flying West Leeds at Mallorie Park.
Sheffield Medicals’ win at Roundhegians pulled the students away from the relegation area and moved them three points above Ripon.
Ripon have amassed just 15 points from their 14 matches so far, and the Blues will need a recovery in the second half of the season to stave off relegation.
However, their call to arms faces a tricky start with a visit to second-placed West Park Leeds on Saturday before Ian Hassall’s men host Barnsley.
Ripon came close to going ahead early against West Leeds but Bob Whitaker missed a penalty kick at goal on four minutes.
The Leeds side, who have now won their last four matches, made Ripon pay with two tries, one converted, and a penalty.
Whitaker found his kicking boots just before half-time to take his side into the break 12 points behind at 15-3.
The second half was less lively than the first and the full 40 minutes turned into a war of attrition as both sides beefed up their defensive plays and snuffed out each other’s attempted attacks.
A further try and penalty goal to West Leeds were the only scores of the half and whilst desperate to gain a winning bonus point, West Leeds ran out of time before further points came.
Scrappy play led to a total of four yellow cards, one to Ripon and three to West Leeds. However neither side were able to capitalise on the power play scenario.
First team manager Bob Champion said: “Fitness, match preparation and sheer will to win, were not evident this week.
“However, it was a gritty and instinctive performance defensively throughout and that prevented a capitulation and kept the score at a reasonable level.
“It was an effective, display of backs to the wall rugby but in which we never really looked like scoring a try.
“However no Ripon initiated attacks were executed thoroughly enough to threaten the visitors’ line throughout the game. Hopefully the lessons learned will help Ripon incrementally build on the good aspects and eliminate the negatives. “