Rugby Union: Findlay man of match as Ripon record back-to-back wins

Ripon's man of the match Euan Findlay (Photo: Dave Naylor)

Ripon's man of the match Euan Findlay (Photo: Dave Naylor)

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Young back Euan Findlay collected the man of the match award with two tries as Ripon earned back-to-back victories for the first time since March on Saturday.

Findlay scored twice and created a third try in the contest as Ripon swept Leodiensian aside 19-5 away from home.

Ripon's Jason Bell is stopped in his tracks (Photo: Dave Naylor)

Ripon's Jason Bell is stopped in his tracks (Photo: Dave Naylor)

Following last week’s 41-22 win at home over Moortown, Ripon approached the Leos clash with confidence and immediately put the home side on the back foot to force a scrum in the first minute.

However, the Blues were unceremoniously shunted off their own put in, which turned into a feature of the contest.

From some scrappy play. Leos put the ball into touch for Ripon to earn a line out throw in. Clean ball saw Harry Cleary cut a sharp line to feed Joe Duffield coming in from the opposite wing. Duffield then cut back towards the posts to find Findlay, on his shoulder to carry the ball over for the first try at five minutes of play. Richard Hooks added the conversion effortlessly.

The next 35 minutes saw Ripon defending superbly against any Leos’ attacks, Leos seemingly unable to get any real cohesion going and the visitors desperately trying to keep the ball away from the home team’s giant front five.

There were some close encounters, but neither side really looked like scoring, until the last minute of the half. Ripon lost defensive scrums in succession, to give Leos sufficient room to let their winger in for an unconverted try.

The second half took a while to get going, with Leos’ possession hampered by mistakes and Ripon giving them the ball back through scrums won against the head.

Ripon’s defence held resolute throughout and everyone stepped up to put their bodies on the line to stop the home side breaking through.

After a relatively quiet first quarter, the game finally came alive in the 65th minute, when from a defensive line out just 10 metres from their own line, Ripon won the ball and Hooks hoofed the ball down-field with Findlay hot in pursuit.

Findlay hacked on twice during his 70 metre sprint to set the ball for a perfect bounce for him to collect and score his second try of the game and third of the season.

Hooks narrowly missed the conversion attempt from the corner.

The next opportunity to increase the score was a penalty attempt at 65 minutes, which Hooks again narrowly missed.

After a further 10 minutes of torrid exchanges, with Ripon continuing to live off scraps from their scrum, but benefiting from excellent line speed in defence and gradually earning the respect of the referee for fairly contesting the breakdown. From yet another clean line out, Ripon pushed on through Bell.

Bell offloaded to Harry Cleary, who fed ever present Findlay and after a fast paced one-two, Cleary touched down for his eighth try in three senior matches for Ripon.

Hooks made no mistake of the conversion and concluded the scoring.

Ripon director of rugby Ian Hassall said: “You want a reward for what you’re doing. The lads are working hard and we are getting the results.

“And we are also doing it with a young side, which is nice to see.

“Euan got the man of the match but there was a lot of good things from a lot of other players on Saturday. Defensively we looked sharp and also in attack. We have a team of dangerous players, and dangerous young players too.

“Our scrummage needs a bit of work, but we’re short on the ground with front rowers at the moment.

“It would be nice to get a bit more consistency in our playing squad, but I have no criticism of the lads that are playing, they are playing with such confidence.

“There are areas we need to work on, but that will always be the case.”