Yorkshire Two: Buzzing Ripon boost survival hopes

Mark Spilman - Ripon RUFC. Taken by Dave Naylor
Mark Spilman - Ripon RUFC. Taken by Dave Naylor

There’s a “buzz” at Ripon Rugby Club as the Mallorie Park outfit edge closer to escaping relegation.

Ripon have done their Yorkshire Two survival hopes no harm over the past two weeks with back-to-back victories shunting them up the table.

Saturday’s home 27-12 victory over doomed Leeds Medics and Dentists was the Blues’ sixth victory this season.

It followed a gruelling 24-22 victory away at mid-table Knottingley the weekend before and the current form has taken them 11 points above second-bottom students Sheffield Medicals.

Only five matches remain of the campaign and the coaching staff at Ripon are in buoyant mood over the hopes of staying in the division.

“The buds of growth is coming,” said director of rugby Ian Hassall.

“We are starting to show shape right through the game and not just for short spells.

“The young lads are starting to mature. “We are still not there, and still not out of the mire but we are certainly showing signs of growth.

“There’s a buzz about the place. I am trying not to think too much about where we are in the league. If we concentrate on the way we want to play, and play with desire, it should bode well.”

Ripon have lost South African back-row Dudley Stead for the final matches of the campaign, but have been boosted by the signing of like for like replacement Kia Walker, formerly of West Leeds.

Stead made a giant contribution during his holiday-stay in North Yorkshire and Hassall said he would always be welcomed back.

“He has been a really good lad,” Hassall said.

“I could not have asked for any more off him. He entered into the club fully and has enjoyed his time with us.”

Walker will head straight into the first team squad for Saturday’s trip to ninth-placed Leodiensian.

Ripon fielded an unchanged squad for only the second time this season against and it bore fruit in a passionate encounter.

The Blues got off to a fast start thanks to George Foster’s unconverted try before excellent defence from Mark Spilman, Euan Findlay and Sam Britton thwarted several Medics charges forward.

On 20 minutes, Joe Duffield fielded a speculative territorial kick and following a scything run, put Ben Buckley over. Tom Leeming kicked the conversion.

The Medics responded with a 28th-minute try to bring the score to 12-5 at the changearound.

The first 15 minutes of the second half was a continuation of the play before the break with both sides throwing everything at each other.

Close to the hour, Ripon pulled further clear when Dud Stead powered over, and Leeming converted. The medics returned with a converted score of their own before Leeming stroked over a long-range penalty to maintain Ripon’s lead.

Leeds pressured until the death, but a hoof upfield saw Duffield cap victory with a counter-attacking try.