THEY have lost their last four games and sit perilously close to the Yorkshire Two trapdoor.
But Ripon coach Al Norrie is confident his Mallorie Parkers have what it takes to avoid slipping down a division.
Saturday’s 27-17 home defeat to Wath was a kick in the proverbials for Norrie who is working hard to organise a competitive friendly tomorrow in preparation for next week’s vital trip to bottom club Goole.
“The Goole match is a must win for us,” said Norrie.
“We’ve got an important few games coming up, luckily we’re playing a lot of the teams around us at home.
“Unfortunately, after Saturday, the gap between us and Skipton has opened up a little bit and we’ve got to look at that.
“It’s frustrating. We lost to Wath on Saturday who are fourth. But you look at the game and say “are they better than us?” and I’d have to say no.”
Against Wath, Ripon battled hard to take an early 5-0 lead.
But a crazy first half passage of play cost them according to their coach.
“It was ten minutes of madness that cost us,” he continued.
“From 5-0 up we were 24-5 down and there was no coming back from that.
“It really was suicide. But we know the areas we need to improve and I’m sure we will.”
Norrie will give a change to Ripon’s promising youngsters tomorrow in a bid to blood them if he needs them the following Saturday.
“It’s a non league fixture and gives us a chance to try a few different things and change the side around a little bit,” he added.
“The younger lads have been doing well in the second team and they deserve their chance. But we didn’t want to throw them straight into a league game because that wouldn’t be right.”
On Saturday the Mallorie Park side started well and could have taken an early lead when a dropped pass was hacked on by Mark Spilman. The ball was picked up by the same player who made good ground before being caught by the Wath cover defence. The pass to the supporting player went to ground and the chance was gone.
Ripon did open the scoring however when a strong run by winger Jason Bell took play close to the Wath line. The resulting scrum was dominated by the Ripon pack and Adam Scott-Paul was took advantage to out score wide.
The next ten minutes was disastrous for Ripon as a series of mistakes let the visitors in for three converted tries and a straight forward penalty which virtually put the game out of reach.
This period of play summed up the season so far for Ripon as lapses in concentration, even for a short time, have been punished by their opponents and the end result becomes inevitable.
Within the space of ten minutes Ripon had lost the lead and were now trailing 24-5.
The remainder of the game was evenly contested but the damage had been done.
Ripon’s scummaging was the highlight of the game for the hosts and and just before half time prop forward Mark Sadler barged over for his first try for the club after more good work by the pack.
With the half time score at 24-10 there was much work to be done but Ripon hit back again with a try by scrum half Rob Nicholson and with Scott McAra’s conversion they were back in touch.
At 17-24, and with a bonus point within their grasp, familiar indiscipline raised its head again.
Needless indiscretions cost Ripon territorial advantage and with it a kickable penalty to Wath which cost them even the consolation of one point, as they sit third from bottom.
1sts XV v T.B.A. Squad selected: Bell; A.Potter; Osborne; Stirk; Thompson; Stiddart; Mcara; R.Nicholson; Newcombe; Sadler; Plant; Box; Sullivan; Coyne; Lister; J.Potter; Turner; Scott-Paul.
2nd XV v Scunthorpe. Home 2.15 pm ko. Squad selected: Shepherd; Nash; Jonno; Butterill; Drane; Whitaker; Rowntree; Tommy; Gaunt; Syd; Ellis; Nicole; Watson; Park; Clough; Foster. 3rds XV v Harrogate Pirates. Away. Meet 12.45pm. Squad selected: S.Nicholson; Hudson; Brewster; C.Lawrence; Rees; Harris; Campbell; Nipper; Marzak; Henstock; Rivers; Howard; Bulmer; Kite; Pascoe; Clegg; Gammon; Farrell; Sykes; Humphries; White.