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Rugby Union: Frustrating rugby with flashes of brilliance

Beverley RUFC 38  v 23 North Ribblesdale RFC (Saturday  April 7)

Ribblesdale kicked off with a beautifully-judged kick by stand-off Michael Thwaite, fielded by flanker Richard Wood, whilst the Beverley forwards failed to challenge it. This set up a difficult opening five minutes, during which the Beavers never touched the ball but in which the gave away three penalties! From the third of these Michael Thwaite gave Ribblesdale a deserved lead (0-3).

At last Beverley were shaken out of their early lethargy and after 10 minutes of slick backs’ interplay, Luke Hazell scored a try which Phil Duboulay was unable to convert (5-3). Two minutes later Luke topped this with an excellent 75 metre run to touch down and this time Phil Duboulay made no mistake with the conversion and things started to look a little better for the Beavers at 12-3.

Ribblesdale reduced the deficit to 12-6 with another Thwaite penalty after 14 minutes.

Ribblesdale were looking far from a team struggling at the bottom of the league table, but after 20 minutes Beverley colt Theo Richardson, making his first-team debut on the wing, scored the try of the day. Spotting the point of attack going up the middle of the field, he left his wing and made a blistering diagonal run to take a superb pass and cross to touch down behind the posts. Phil Duboulay duly converted and it was 19-6.

Suddenly it was all Beverley and James Graham rounded off more enterprising back play with a try which gave Beverley the bonus point. Phil Duboulay converted and it also gave them the half-time lead of 26 points to 6.

Ribblesdale were unlucky to be 20 points down after working so hard in the first half and it showed when they came out with all guns blazing in the second.

They mounted a series of attacks on the Beverley line and after 52 minutes were rewarded with a try from flanker John Padley which was not converted (26-11). Three minutes later a similar period of pressure brought a pushover try (26-16) and Beverley were suddenly not looking so comfortable.

However, the Beavers eventually managed to extricate themselves from the stranglehold that the Ribblesdale forwards had them under in the top corner and they moved play downfield into the Ribblesdale half.

After 65 minutes, another young colt, Alex Hodgkinson, on the other wing made a good break and scored an excellent try in the corner to take a little pressure off (31-16). This settled Beverley down and they returned to their first-half style and looked far more comfortable.

On 70 minutes Theo Richardson scored his second try, which Phil Duboulay converted (38-16). Ribblesdale hit back with a consolation try almost on full-time to round off the scoring at 38-23 with the conversion.

This game was both frustrating and exciting, littered with mistakes from both sides but also with flashes of excellent rugby, not least from the two Beverley colts on show, Theo Richardson and Alex Hodgkinson. Each took their scoring opportunities with aplomb and defended superbly. Theo Richardson in particular, displayed outstanding reading of the game with both of his tries.

Seeing the quality of these youngsters is most encouraging for Beverley and is a tribute to the coaches they have in the Junior Section. Not so encouraging, however, are the extraordinary amount of penalties that they give away week after week. Yesterday the count was 18 against 5 by North Ribblesdale.