A LATE try from Gavin Stead sealed a victory which YMCA had been in danger of letting slip despite having controlled much of the game.
From a position of some security at half-time when they led 22-7, they gifted Ripon three soft tries, and going into the last few minutes of the game had been pulled back level at 25-25.
And had it not been for John Smith, who won a race back over his own line to get the touch down ahead of Ripon, it could easily have turned into an away win.
However, with the only minutes left, Kevin Hellawell took a clean catch at the line-out and driven on by the pack they sucked in Ripon’s defence.
Scrum half Simon Wilson then released the ball to the backs at just the right time, and Stead, who had come on as a late substitute for Smith, was on hand to take the final pass and finish off with the winning try.
From the start YM set out their intent to play open rugby with the ball whizzing across the field from side to side. And the forwards contributed superbly, with the young front row determined not to take a backward step.
The first quarter-of-an-hour was all YM as they piled on the pressure, only to be kept out by solid Ripon defence. But then suddenly visiting winger Ardon chased up a speculative hack out of his own half, and proceeded to kick the ball all the way to the line for a try completely against the run of play, which stand-off Lyons converted.
YM were quickly back on attack but still failed to find a way through the defence, although Russell Barber did pull three points back with a penalty when Ripon were caught offside.
However, YM’s dominant pack began to cause Ripon problems and, after a great drive, Simon Whitehead claimed a well-worked score to which Barber added the conversion and put YM ahead 10-7.
Within minutes they struck again, this time through the backs after another cleanly-won ball in the line-out by Hellawell. Wilson and stand-off James Swift – having his best game of the season – combined well before the latter delayed his pass just long enough before releasing centre Chris Williams, who in turn fed Barber and his fellow centre shot through the smallest of gaps to score, and then added his own conversion.
Another fine move from the backs saw winger Alex Shaw finishing off with an excellent try wide out on the right wing, and although Barber missed the conversion, with a 22-7 half-time lead it looked as though a big score was on the cards.
From the restart YM went on the attack again, but were caught out by a carbon copy of Ripon’s first try when this time Audsley-Beck chased down another kick through to score and cut the deficit.
Within six minutes they were over again, this time when YM left the back door open again and Ripon’s speedy No13 Railoa showed everyone a clear pair of heels as he scored under the posts for a converted try – and when YM’s Smith was sin-binned for a high tackle Ripon drew level.
Swapped penalties pushed the score on to 25-all, before Stead’s late effort wrapped up the points. It was no less than YM deserved after an attacking display, but they must be wary of leaving themselves open at the back.
YMCA: Horner; Smith (Stead 72), Barber, Williams, Shaw; Swift, Wilson; Dyke (Ste), Dyke (Stu), Sellars (Lockwood 51), Whitehead, Hellawell, Hodge, Leone-Mazza, Pollock.