Yorkshire One: North Ribblesdale 22 Keighley 17

A VISIT to old adversaries North Ribblesdale is always a challenging prospect and particularly so when the Dalesmen are scrapping to avoid the relegation zone and Keighley are forced to field an understrength side.

It proved too much as the visitors had to settle for a losing bonus point.

The anticipated Ribblesdale spirit and aggression were soon apparent in a rather one sided first half and it was to Keighley’s credit that they were able to contain the home side to only a 12-point interval lead.

Ribblesdale were soon ahead when hooker Ian Close burst away from a ruck to touch down near to the posts with stand- off Micky Thwaite easily converting. Thwaite then added a penalty goal before Alex Brown replied in similar style for Keighley.

Despite the industry of forwards Hamish Pratt, Sam Booker and Steve Welch, Ribblesdale maintained their overall grip on the game. Their scrum was dominant and their backs benefited from a plentiful supply of ball which was well used by hard-running centre Ryan Sumner.

Pressure eventually turned into points when slick passing brought a try for wingman Omari Kaup-Samuels.

Keighley stuck gamely to their task with Alfie Seeley and Joe Copperwaite looking threatening on their rare attacking opportunities. A penetrating run by Copperwaite finally brought him a fine try, improved by Brown, but before half-time the home lead was increased when wingman Tom Frick exploited a slack defence to cross in the corner.

A much-improved second-half performance by the visitors prevented any further Ribblesdale points.

Second row James Cunliffe and back row Tom Willson began to secure good line-out possession and gaps began to appear in the home defence.

These were exploited by Brown and Seeley, the latter taking play to the Ribblesdale 22 metre area where quickly re-cycled ball allowed Seeley to touch down for a try converted by Brown.

Suddenly the Ribblesdale lead was reduced to five points and Keighley began to sense a victory which for most of the game had looked unlikely.

Poor finishing robbed the Dalesmen of a scoring chance and good line kicking by Brown and Copperwaite took play into their half. The late chances fell to Keighley but they were unable to penetrate a tenacious defence and the Utley men had to be content with one losing bonus point.

On Friday Keighley host Moortown in a re-scheduled match under floodlights (kick-off 7.30pm)