Aire overpower North Ribb in exciting encounter
By Granville Sellers
Momentum gaining ahead of tour weekend.
Aire 52 v North Ribb 29
Aire hosted North Ribb on the last game of the regular season and given previous tight encounters, the Wolfpack knew they would need to perform to take the spoils.
Aire got out of the blocks the quickest and quickly applied pressure in Ribb territory. Decisive rucking provided quick ball, which Spencer Wood accurately distributed from scrum half. A series of meaty drives put Aire in touching distance and with Ribb on the back foot, lock Tommy Rollinson went over to score an early try. Aire have been working on the re-start and this paid dividend with a clean take and presentation of the ball. Aire went through the phases and utilised their pods to good effect. Prop Tom Rudd made good yards and was supported well by the pack. The ball was worked wide and Jacob Bevan showed great strength and pace to race in for another score, which was converted by Josh Wood.
Aire were doing the basics well and mixed up their game to good effect. The accuracy of passing led to Haydon Pickett being released into space down the left and he clattered through the attempted tackle to score and make it 19-0. Aire diffused the re-start, but solid tackling put the home side on the back foot. The ball was recycled and shipped to stand off Havey Sellers, who looked up and saw that Ribb were narrow in defence. Harvey put in a peach of a kick, which winger Haydon Picket kept in with nifty footwork and hacked the ball forward. It was then a footrace, which Haydon won and the ball sat up just in time for him to scoop up and dot down over the try line 26-0.
Even though missing players, Ribb are a quality side and a series of penalties gave them good field position. Aire began to lose their shape and this was capitalised by Ribb, who scored a well taken try. Aire gathered themselves and resumed back to their game plan to get back into Ribb territory. Centres Josh Wood and Ethan Heede made a good partnership and caused Ribb a headache in defence. Aire spotted a mismatch on the right and Jacob Bevan scorched through the defence to score his 2nd.
The next phase of the game was not one to be remembered as an off the ball incident, led to punches being thrown resulting in a yellow for Ribb and a straight red for Aire. Emotions & testosterone levels were running high and the next phases saw some physical play from both sides. Aire's composure took a knock and with it their shape in defence. Ribb seized upon their opportunity to score another well taken try to make it 31-12 at half time.
The score line suggested that Aire were dominant, but Ribb had plenty of danger players in their side. The re-start was fielded and Tommy Rollinson made a galloping run down the left and was just tackled into touch 25m out. Ribb won the line out, but the clearance didn't find touch and some neat passing saw Tommy striding forward once again. As a defender closed in Tommy passed inside to supporting Harvey Sellers, who ran in from 20m.
To even things up Aire had lent Ribb flanker Tom "Chelsea" Hist, which was would come back to haunt as he waltzed through flimsy defence to score an individual try. Aire responded almost immediately with Joe Priestley showing pace and power to cross the whitewash. The game had become scrappy, with both defences rather flimsy in the tackle area. Aire took their foot off the gas and Ribb nipped over for another.
In the dying minutes, Aire marched into Ribb territory and the ball was recycled from the ruck. A neat pass found Harvey Sellers, who stepped two defenders to score under the sticks. The conversion was notched over to make the final score 52-29.
This was a bitter sweet victory, with some excellent rugby being diluted by some poor discipline. Thee were some stand out performances, with Tommy Rollinson, Haydon Pickett, Joe Priestley and Josh Wood catching the eye. Winger Tom Cutts had his best performance of the season and the from row of Ollie Flaxman, Eddie Farnell and Tom Rudd impressed.
Aire will carry this momentum forward to their tour to the North East next week.