Selby RUFC 28 - 18 North Ribblesdale RUFC
Relegation battle win gives hope for Yorkshire 1 survival.
Selby RUFC 28 – 18 North Ribblesdale RUFC
Report by Ian Marlow
After last week’s anticlimactic league loss to Hullensians, Selby gave their supporters some much improved Valentine’s week stimulation as they came good at home in their seemingly perennial relegation battle fixture against friends and rivals North Ribblesdale. To analogise the win in gentleman’s terms appropriated from Ian Holloway, Blackpool’s erstwhile football manager and cod philosopher, Selby managed to ‘pull’ on Saturday – and while she maybe wasn’t the most attractive young lady, they at least managed to get her in the taxi and back home for coffee, for which we were all very thankful.
Like the weather, the match started brightly for Selby and despite the customary early unforced errors they looked by far the most likely, so when the pack demolished their opponents on their own put in to set free Alex Webster to blaze up the touchline for a sublime 75 metre try, spirits were immediately raised. And when the pack went into beast mode again to win another penalty, well converted from long range by fly-half Scott Hunt, they were positively priapic. But hang on, this is Selby, a fickle mistress, who on occasions too numerous to recall can be of diva-like temperament – and so it proved as Selby then spilled red wine over their own cream carpet with a succession of largely unforced errors to keep Ribblesdale still in the running.
The Dalesmen in contrast were the epitome of countryside yeomanry, going about their own game plan quietly and efficiently and rather un-sportingly declining to return Selby’s largesse by refusing to make errors of their own. And so, with Selby unable to build any momentum of their own, and with the talismanic Rob Taylor in the bin for a clumsy high tackle, Ribblesdale came right back into the match to earn a penalty of their own to tighten the score line. Finally, a great pass from Hunt unlocked the defence as he put the centre in for an easy try under the sticks – unfortunately for Selby the player was wearing the blue of Ribblesdale (an easy mistake) and Selby were suddenly behind and looking decidedly ragged. The remainder of the half consisted of the same drudgery as Selby’s dominant forwards built up a large positive balance of possession, only for some extravagant spending to squander it all to leave the half time account at 8-10 in the red.
Selby’s coach and Ubermeister Steve Cruise had clearly seen enough, or more pertinently had had enough, and he rang the changes at half time bringing on all three substitutes, and while this had little effect on the number of errors that Selby continued to rack up, topping up Ribblesdale’s glass again with another three point penalty, it did at least introduce the ogre-like Liam Hogan to the party – where he made an immediate and sustained impact with a number of bruising surges up field. From one of these the Swans’ backline finally clicked, with Webster putting another substitute, the more boybandish Henry Wright, into space for the youngster to shoot in for the try faster than he could sign a Louis Walsh contract. Another Hogan break earned another penalty to extend Selby’s lead but then back came Ribblesdale, hanging on like that guest who doesn’t know when to go home, to prolong their own festivities with a well worked try of their own to again level the scores at 18 apiece.
With the match seemingly drawing to a messy and inconclusive end, and just in the nick of time, Selby suddenly drew clear. A fabulous individual break by Danny Wilkinson was halted just short but he fed the supporting Charlie Cicero to cross for a converted try and then another penalty from Webster not only assured the four point win but importantly, and somewhat unfairly, denied the Dalesmen a losing bonus point, which may itself be more crucial than realised to Selby’s possible survival come the league’s last day denouement.
Selby now have a week’s break during which they can savour this result before yet another relegation face-off away against bottom placed Wheatley Hills. Oh what fun!