Yorkshire Two: Ripon face relegation doom after crushing blow

Ripon’s winning run came to an untimely halt on Saturday, leaving their Yorkshire Two survival hopes in tatters.

Ripon lie nine points adrift in the drop zone having fallen down 20-14 to closest rivals Old Rishworthians at Mallorie Park.

With just two away travels left, Ripon are almost certain to be relegated to Yorkshire Three at the end of the season.

Richard Dixon’s men must earn two bonus point victories against Barnsley and Roundhegians and hope Rishworthians and Moortown fall flat in their three fixtures remaining.

Barnsley overcame the Blues 19-11 earlier this season and Ripon need to reverse that result to avoid suffering relegation in South Yorkshire.

But they will be without crucial players fly-half Bob Whitaker (broken ankle) and flanker Sam Britton (torn groin) who were injured in Saturday’s defeat.

“We are down, but not out,” said Bob Champion, first team manager.

“Saturday was a crushing blow.

“If we got what we needed we would have been in a much better position, instead we are nine points behind.”

Crucial errors let Ripon down against Halifax-side Rishworthians despite dominating possession all afternoon.

Ashley Rio’s first of three penalties brought the scoreboard into action early on before Joe Duffield raced into the corner for the game’s opening try.

Adam Newcombe’s crunching tackle had forced a turnover which allowed Rio to exploit space and pass for Duffield to score, Rio missing the resulting conversion

But the visitors hit back midway through the first half against the run of play.

Ripon were attacking through the centres when a mistimed pass was expertly intercepted and a Rishworthian ran 70 metres to score a converted try under the posts.

At 25 minutes a poorly fielded defensive kick saw the visitors counter attack and enter the Ripon half for the second time.

After a handling error, Ripon were granted a scrum, which the visitors uncharacteristically destroyed, resulting in a penalty in front of the posts, which they duly kicked.

Rio kicked Ripon ahead after the break, and another exchange of penalties left the hosts 14-13 up.

But late on, the away side broke Ripon’s hearts. The bouncing ball from a home chip and chase fell kindly to Rishworthians, and their winger ran 60 metres unopposed to score.

First team manager Bob Champion said: “We were robbed.

“It was heartbreaking. Maintaining so much pressure and possession and essentially two basic errors allowed them to score.

“That’s the difference between us and the clinical teams in this league.”