Struggling Ripon sink closer to relegation

Ripon v Knottingley, by Bob Turner
Ripon v Knottingley, by Bob Turner

Struggling Ripon RUFC’s relegation troubles worsened after another narrow defeat to lowly rivals.

Knottingley returned to Mallorie Park three weeks after the pair’s abandoned clash to beat Ripon 15-8 and edge themselves away from the drop.

The defeat cut another string in Ripon’s fading survival hopes, with just seven Yorkshire Two matches left this season.

Richard Dixon’s charges lie 12 points adrift in the relegation zone.

The second-bottom side travel to promotion chasing Yarnbury this Saturday looking to overturn November’s 17-8 deficit.

Knottingley’s visit to Mallorie Park on January 25 ended in chaos as the referee abandoned the match on the hour mark, with Ripon leading 19-10.

The home side originally believed the result would stand, but the Yorkshire RFU ordered a rematch to be played on Saturday.

Ripon had also beaten Knottingley 10-9 when the pair met in Wakefield in October.

Dixon’s men made an equally dominant start this time around and they pinned the visitors n their 22 metre area for the first two minutes.

A pacey counter by Jason Bell, ably supported by Rob Harrison helped take the ball to within feet of the visitors’ line, and Adam Newcombe was on hand to open the scoring. Scott McAra missed the conversion.

On 15 minutes, McAra was gifted another shot at goal with a penalty kick, which edged Ripon further into the lead.

Knottingley pulled within a point with a converted try, before a last-minute penalty goal saw them head into the break two points ahead.

The second-half turned into an error-strewn slog for both sides.

Ripon’s play was dented when young prop Will Champion, who had impressed in the scrum during the opening period suffered an ankle injury.
Within minutes of the prop’s departure, Knottingley bullied across the line for a pushover try from a five-metre scrum.

The unconverted score was the only points scored in the second period, as the referee blew time on another depressing afternoon for the Blues.

First team manager Bob Champion said: “It was Ripon’s age-old problem of being unable to close games down that was the deciding factor.

“So many times, Ripon have blown away the opposition in the first few minutes to edge in front and then see their efforts ebb away as the opposition fight their way back.

“Some of it is fitness, or lack of it and some of it is down to how badly the team wants to win.

“Whatever the reason for the defeat, everyone needs to find that bit extra now as we head into the final quarter of the season, and every point matters.”