Scarborough slip to fifth straight league defeat at North Ribblesdale

Scarborough get ready to contest a scrum during their 9-3 defeat at North Ribblesdale. Picture: Andy Standing
Scarborough get ready to contest a scrum during their 9-3 defeat at North Ribblesdale. Picture: Andy Standing
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Scarborough’s recent run of poor league form stretched to five consecutive defeats with this hugely disappointing 9-3 reverse at North Ribblesdale.

An uninspiring encounter at a soggy Grove Park failed to produce a try in 80 minutes of rugby.

An accident on the A59 delayed the Scarborough players causing a late kick-off and back row Chris Purdy skippered the side in place of Phil Watson, who arrived after the start.

Playing with the breeze at their backs, the visitors had an early chance to grab the lead when Ribb’ infringed at the breakdown.

However fly-half Tom Ratcliffe’s penalty attempt was just wide and the Settle-based outfit countered quickly.

They kept possession and spent time in the Scarborough half, but solid defence and the greasy underfoot conditions conspired against them.

A good break by Jonny Moore saw the centre burst into the visitors 22, but a poorly directed inside pass turned over possession and Ratcliffe cleared his lines.

The Seasiders’ relief was short lived and when they infringed 25 metres out, fly-half Steve Moon chipped over the penalty for a 3-0 lead in the 10th minute.

With the wind behind him Ratcliffe used his howitzer boot to turn Ribb’ with some massive line kicks deep into the home half and give his side some good field position.

Pressure just outside their own 22 saw the home side infringe and Ratcliffe tied the scores with the penalty in the 16th minute.

The second quarter saw both sides look to run the ball, but defences dominated. Breaks by centre Benji Cottle and full-back Harry Domett tested the Ribb resolve, but effective midfield tackling from centres Jon Richards and Moore blunted the Seasiders’ efforts which lacked penetration.

His forwards having won a defensive line-out in their own 22, Moon’s clearance was charged down and collected by Scarborough’s Paul Taylor, however the burly prop lost his footing in the muddy conditions just short of the line and the danger was cleared.

Ribblesdale drove up-field near the end of the half and when the visitors infringed at a ruck in the 39th minute,

Moon made no mistake with the resulting penalty for a 6-3 half-time lead.

Scarborough made the early running after the break and a great chip and chase saw Ratcliffe almost to the line, but the big fly-half knocked-on as he attempted to gather and the chance had gone.

The home side then took control; keeping ball in hand they pressed deep in the visitors’ half, but solid defensive work by Nino Cutino, Blake Nightingale, Jan Teiber, Mark Hopper and Purdy thwarted their offensive efforts.

Ribblesdale then had wing Ryan Gill sin-binned for use of the head on Cottle in the 52nd minute.

A great break by winger Joe Lenton was stopped just short and an incisive run by Cottle which released Cutino, only for the South African prop to be penalised for not releasing in the tackle, were the visitors only attacks of note during this period of numerical superiority.

In the final quarter both sides continued to attempt to play running rugby in the conditions, but dominant defence and a lack of penetration saw the scoreboard in stasis.

Having missed a penalty in the 71st minute, Moon nudged his side 9-3 ahead with another two minutes from the end to settle the matter, a late gust of wind curling in a kick that looked to be going wide.

This was a largely forgettable game between two average mid-table sides, but to be fair the conditions were pretty dire following weeks of heavy rain.

Scarborough were at a distinct disadvantage following four hours on the road and a late start; up front the scrums and line-outs were not particularly problematic although talismanic back row Matthew Else was a late withdrawal due to illness and substitute Rob Sutton started for skipper Phil Watson.

Even given the conditions, a very useful back division (on paper) just failed to fire and lacked composure and penetration.

Apart from the defeat of Heath in the first game of year, 2014 has so far, been desperately disappointing for coach Lee Douglas, his players and the Silver Royd faithful.