This Yorkshire Shield competition semi final eventually took place today on the third time of asking at Mallorie Park, Ripon, following two cancellations due to dangerous frozen pitches and a two week Christmas break. The home side played the heavy conditions better and deservedly won 17 – 7.
Beverley made a very sluggish start to this game and played like their last game was 6 weeks ago, a series of elementary mistakes allowed Ripon to pile the pressure on the Beverley line. Desperate defence from Beverley saw the ball held up twice over their line and although they were winning ball against the head at the set piece, they couldn’t find a way to clear their lines.
Inevitably the pressure told when firstly, Beverley’s inspirational captain, George Bennett-Teare was forced off with a back injury, then with Beverley defending another 5 metre line out, Ripon’s open side flanker, Henry Fletcher, forced his way over for the game’s first try.
A period of relative parity followed, where both sides struggled to make any headway. The deadlock was broken following a yellow card for Ripon’s blindside flanker, for a high tackle. Beverley were able to make the extra man count and after a series of attacks, Beverley’s fly half, Sam Peers, was able to free his hands in the tackle and offload to inside centre, Will Wallis, who evaded the full back for a good try under the posts, converted by Tom Meldon.
Beverley’s good work was quickly undone by another series of unforced errors straight from the kick off, inviting more pressure and another 5 metre line out from where Ripon’s excellent scrum half, Olly Bennett, picked up the loose ball and ran hard at the Beverley defence, forcing his way over for a try on the stroke of half time with Ripon now holding a 10 – 7 lead.
In the second half, the game became even more disjointed as the errors from both sides mounted and neither team able to string together a decent passage of play. Beverley made a series of half breaks, but a combination of committed defence by Ripon and a lack of precision by Beverley conspired to prevent them from achieving the score they required.
As the game wore on, Ripon’s confidence grew and their backs started to move the ball with increased purpose putting their left winger in space, only to be well tackled by Beverley wing, Felix Law, who then turned the ball over. However Beverley possession was short lived, as good Ripon counter rucking led to quick ball on Beverley’s 22 metre line. A clever grubber quick in behind Beverley’s backs was well chased and touched down by Ripon’s right wing for the game’s decisive try.
Beverley continued to compete, however, Ripon now had the daylight they required and played sensible rugby to see out the last 10 minutes for a deserved victory.
This was a disappointing game for Beverley as they had high hopes of making the final. There could be no complaints as they came up against a committed Ripon team who ultimately played the testing conditions better.
The referee praised Beverley’s front row for their dominance of the scrum and the Beverley coach’s man of the match went to Felix Law. The Ripon coach’s man of the match went to Olly Bennett.
The team received some good news this week in that the captain George Bennett – Teare and flanker Olly Loney both passed trials over the Christmas break for the England Rugby Development Player Program, bringing the number of lads from the Beverley team in the ERDPP program to ten.