Resolute Ripon fight back to earn losing bonus points

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Ripon Rugby Club came close to upsetting the apple cart for West Yorkshire high fliers Bradford Salem on Saturday.

Ian Hassall’s troops produced a gutsy come-back in the second period to almost overturn a 23-point deficit but fell three points short, losing 35-32 at Mallorie Park.

Their efforts picked up two bonus losing points to leave them 11th in Yorkshire Two.

However, the Blues have gone four matches without a win and they will hope to redress the balance on Saturday on their trip to Keighley.

Keighley lie one point and one place above them in the table following a similarly mixed start.

First team manager Bob Champion said: “Some great positives will be carried forward into this game.

“With only one point between the two teams, there’s an awful lot to play for.”

Ripon were put on the back foot in the opening period against Salem after Ken Davey had missed a penalty shot to open the scoring on eight minutes.

Salem exploited their ability to create overlaps and ran in three tries, two conversions and a penalty goal.

Ripon replied with Bob Whitaker taking over kicking duties to slot over two penalty goals before half-time.

Undeterred, the home team rallied in the second-half but their creative passing was punished by an audacious interception that saw Salem increase their lead.

Sparked into life, Ripon attacked from the restart and pressured Salem into defending their line. And on 48 minutes, a Whitaker pass to Ashley Plant was deliberately knocked on by a defender and resulted in a penalty try. Whitaker calmly added the two points.

With Salem twice having players sin-binned, further Ripon tries ensued from a tireless Joe Duffield and a cheeky steal from the base of a defensive ruck by Bob Whitaker.

Salem added a further two penalty goals to maintain their winning gap.

But Ripon closed the scores in the last minute when number 8 Dud Stead broke from a scrum deep in the Ripon 22 and fed fellow South African Joe Letlakw to run a 70 metres for the last score of the game. However, Whitaker missed the conversion to narrow the gap further.