Rhinos shoved aside by Keyworth

Stand-in skipper Ben Heanue welcomed many returnees to his Rhino 2nd string side; evergreen Peter Kay playing his first game of the season, winger Mark Parkin back safely from Afghanistan and Dan Hardy back for his first game in almost two seasons.

They were joined by the likes of Mike Symons and Malcolm Norris as the sky blue team were full of experience and craft.

Visitors Keyworth had a few old heads interspersed amongst their young side and a keenness to run the ball whenever the chance came.

Keyworth had asked Ripley to de-pressure the scrum and the hosts duly did so though the Nottinghamshire men did very well with a lesser pack to try to wheel the Rhino put-in throughout the first period.

The lineouts saw flanker Steve Lowe doing sterling work as the jumper and Keegan Pelser putting in a strong all-round shift at hooker for the home team.

The first half an hour was a bit scrappy - Keyworth shading the attacking and came close to scoring but twice spilled the ball over the line.

Ripley’s Rich Keeling looked a solid presence in his first ever game at full back and fly half Jamie Banks was linking well with scrum half Mitch Wilmott. The only other action was inside-centre Gareth Roebuck being sin-binned alongside his opposite number after a spot of handbags.

Keyworth then hit a purple patch and scored three tries in eight minutes as they made the most of Rhinos going too high in the tackle to take a 17-0 lead into half-time.

Crucially for Ripley, as soon as they put full pressure on the Keyworth pack, they buckled and immediately opted for uncontested scrums, negating the home side’s ability to tire them out in the tight.

The visitors secured their bonus point only three minutes into the second half after two straightforward phases gave them an overlap to score their fourth try. Ripley then found an attacking footing in the game and, after strong driving work; fittingly it was captain Heanue who crashed over in the corner.

Keyworth kept their expansive game and it benefitted Ripley when their fly half failed to notice Rhino outside-centre Paul Buzzard timing his interception to perfection to pick the ball off and make the 40 metres needed to reduce the deficit to 24-10.

Any hopes Ripley had of a comeback faltered as Keyworth ran two tries in to extend the lead out of reach. A third Ripley try came eight minutes before the end when flanker Keith Buzzard drove over from a 5-metre scrum. Winger Adam Langley added the conversion, which left the scoreline at 38-17 to the visitors and that was how it stayed until the final whistle.

Ultimately Keyworth ran out clear winners. Ripley’s major positives were getting a full 2nd team squad out and the resurgence that those players brought to adding to the squad ethic. Full back Rich Keeling put in a very strong display in his first run out at full back and was awarded the BAB Plumbing and Heating man of the match award from his team mates.