Rugby Union – Yorkshire One
Pocklington remain top of Yorkshire One after a bonus point success at North Ribblesdale where their work ethic eventually saw them to a comfortable victory without hitting top form.
North Ribblesdale’s picturesque ground is traditionally one of the hardest placest to go to on the circuit. But Pocklington have an unbelievable recent record at Ribb, having only lost there once in the past decade. While the rest of the country might be starting to talk about drought restrictions, Settle has water aplenty and the Ribblesdale ground, in the dale bottom under the lea of a range of hills and crags, was in its usual soggy condition.
Pocklington were still getting the journey out of their system as Ribblesdale took the lead with a long penalty in the third minute.
Pocklington soon equalised when a good attack down the right ended with a straightforward penalty by Nick Bennett. Pocklington then took the initiative and raids down each flank almost made a breakthrough before prop and skipper Mat Webber scored from a close-range lineout catch and drive and Bennett coverted from the touchline.
Ribblesdale, already missing a trio of regulars down under for a wedding, were hit by injury and Pock took control as the pack drove forward with endeavour then released the threequarters where centre Jake Bishop and wings Billy Hardy and Charlie Allen got the chance to show their quick feet on the slippery surface. Pocklington battered at the home line through both forwards and backs before they got the ball back wide to the left where Bishop slid and stretched to get the touchdown.
Bennett’s conversion from wide out out came back off the post.
Pocklington’s reshuffled backs continued to pose a threat. And, after prop John-Paul Kelly had led a pack charge, fly half Henry Mitchell ran a midfield scissors that saw centre Joe Holbrough cut back on the diagonal and power over, Bennett kicking his second conversion to make it 22-3 at the break.
Ribblesdale’s injury woes saw all their replacements on within five minutes of the restart and Pocklington found themselves in cruise control.
They had lots of second-half pressure but wrong options and brave home defence saw them fail to turn it into points. For a period the ball turned into a bar of soap and several passess went to ground after good approach play as Pocklington pressed for the important fourth try.
Eventually they decided to go for another Bennett penalty to settle things down and galvanise them for the final quarter.
Pocklington then went straight back on to the attack, forced a lineout in the corner and Webber’s second catch and drive try - he also scored two carbon copies at Scarborough the previous week - just about made the game safe and wrapped up the try bonus point, with Bennett kicking another towering conversion.
Ribblesdale went down to 14 men but bravely kept plugging away and cut through in midfield to score and convert. But Pocklington had the final word with more late pressure. They came close on a couple of occasions and finally got their reward as scrum half Ben Rees burst over from a scrum ten yards out, with Bennett seeing another conversion attempt hit the post and come out.