Wetherby hosted North Ribblesdale on Saturday with both teams having won one and lost one from their opening two fixtures. The weather was glorious and with two sides who like to play in wider channels it was all set to be a cracker.
Wetherby kicked off and after a Ribb error from the kick were instantly on the front foot. Brandon Lacey knocked on the door of the line but it was skipper Steve Hoather who got over the line to score the game’s opening try. 7-0.
James Gibson took a great take from the restart but was left isolated and was penalised for holding on after some lacklustre work at the ruck. Ribb took the three points and closed the gap to get a foothold in the game. 7-3.
Wetherby were getting good momentum in attack and with the handsome Lacey brother Brandon again making good yards, Ribb were forced into conceding a breakdown penalty. Wetherby went for a line out five metres out, and a neat play sent Hoather barrelling over for his second try. 14-3.
One issue that has haunted Wetherby for the last couple of years is being unable to clear their own territory. It was this inability that gave Ribb the chance to attack. In almost a carbon copy of the Roundhegians try last week, our back line was cut to ribbons thanks to some poppadom tackling. 14-10.
With the home side looking comfortable in possession, they were making regular breaks down the outside channels through back three Alex Parrish, Jack Kaye and Andrew Trotman. Unfortunately the ball retention in wider areas was poor, but a clearing kick from North Ribb landed in the hands of maverick Andrew Trotman. The man who now whistles when he talks attempted an audacious drop goal from 40 yards and was unfortunate to hit the bar.
Ribb reacted quickest to the missed drop goal and hared downfield with the ball, breaking deep into the wetherby half. With the hosts on the back foot it was down to knackered old centre Rob Adair to give away a tactical penalty as damage control on the stroke of half-time.
Half-time: Wetherby 14-13 North Ribblesdale
Despite having played a lot of the rugby in the first half, Wetherby were due to play into the wind with only a one point lead. The second half started badly as Hoather spoilt an otherwise perfect performance by dropping the ball from the kick-off. Wetherby again conceded a penalty at the breakdown off the resulting scrum and took the lead for the first time in the game. This time I’ll blame Elliott Reid for the penalty cos he’ll probably just accept it anyway. 14-16.
Another error from the restart by Ribb allowed wetherby’s big boys a bit of momentum. After the initial drive from a rolling maul was disturbed by Ribb defenders, Matt Bartle and Bradley Mason reformed the maul well and it raced away towards the line as James Gibson dotted down at the back for Wetherby’s third try. 21-16.
I think it’s generally accepted that when you play amateur rugby, there’s nothing wrong with a having a couple of quiet responsible drinks on a Friday night as long as you don’t get carried away. When you’re the least responsible person in Yorkshire though, things can often get a little out of hand. After pleading to coach Margeoffo Borwnelsa to take him off because he couldn’t see, Jack Kaye proceeded to give his best impression of Ray Charles under a high ball as he missed it completely whilst waving his arms about like he was playing air piano.
This fluffing of the lines put wetherby under pressure again, and despite some strong defence Wetherby found themselves straying offside and giving away yet another kickable penalty. 21-19.
There are some pairings that just go perfectly together: Salt and Pepper, Ant and Dec, AJ and Shannon. It’s all about chemistry you see, and it was natural chemistry that allowed Harry Kaye and Archie Youlden to get Wetherby back on the front foot. Add to that a Jack Kaye in search of atonement and it combines to give you a beautiful backs move that slices through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. 28-19.
North Ribb were chasing the game and for the first time in the match started to play with urgency and pushed the fringes of the wetherby defence. Wetherby were firing in defence and pushing the Ribb ball carriers backwards but the dangerous scrum-half spotted a gap and ran under the posts to score.
Full-time: Wetherby 28-26 North Ribblesdale
Despite a tight finish Wetherby were able to close out the game and take a second win from three games. Next week, Wetherby face old foes Northallerton on the road.
MOM: Steve Hoather - Haters gonna hate.
DOD: Jack Kaye - There are simply no words to describe this bloke sometimes.