By Dale Earnshaw
A last-gasp try from Tom Egan saw Laund Hill snatch victory from the jaws of defeat with the last play of the game.
Egan produced a piece of magic to find the gaps and go in under the posts. A conversion saw Laund Hill grab a 25-22 victory over North Ribblesdale.
It was a resilient performance from a young side which left head coach James Tindall delighted.
“This victory shows just how far this team has come,” said Tindall. “Despite us fielding a very young side, everyone is prepared to work for each other and dig really deep.
“Training over the past few weeks has been phenomenal, with nearly 30 players at every session.
“The fact that both our 1st and 2nd teams have got great wins this weekend over good opposition means that once again we’ll have a few headaches at selection for the Roundhegians game next week.”
Laund Hill entered their Counties 2 Yorkshire home fixture having made just one change to the starting line-up, with Corby Nasaqa coming in for the injured Joe Bender at No8.
North Ribb also made minimal changes and with two settled teams, the game promised to be an enthralling encounter.
And it was North Ribblesdale who showed that promise early in the game as they threatened the Laund Hill line on a number of occasions.
Laund Hill did nothing to help themselves though and loose passes within their own 22 and stray kicks going straight into touch made work easy for their opponents.
And when they conceded a penalty within kicking distance, the Dalesmen made the easy decision and went for goal. Unfortunately for them, the kick was pushed just wide and Hill were able to clear their lines.
It wasn’t long though before they got another chance as another soft penalty was conceded, followed by backchat to the referee and this time the three points was converted.
The penalty count was quickly starting to rack-up as Ribblesdale missed another kick going into the final 10 minutes of the half.
The game was starting to look a little one sided as remarkably, Laund Hill had not had any possession within the opposition half in the first 30 minutes of the half. However, credit must be given to the defence as it stood solid in the waves of attack that came.
This allowed them to build a platform and when they were awarded a penalty themselves on half-way, the ball was kicked to touch, deep into Ribblesdale territory.
Being in the Ribb 22 for the first time, the sensible decision of a catch and drive at the line-out was taken which proved dividends as hooker Benny Hill took the ball from the back of the maul and powered his way to take his side into the lead against the run of play.
The lead didn’t last for too long though as Ribblesdale were awarded yet another penalty and yet again, dissent in the Laund Hill camp marched them back a further 10 metres.
A quick tap was taken followed by a chip over the top. A Laund Hill defender tried to fly-hack the ball to safety but the kick landed safely in a North Ribblesdale winger’s hands and he raced away for an unconverted try.
With just a minute left of the half, Laund Hill dug deep and their efforts were rewarded as North Ribb were this time found guilty of an offence within kicking range and centre Egan slotted it over to level the scores at 8-8 at half-time.
Going into the second half, Laund Hill needed to settle things down and gain the upper hand in the game. And their forwards were able to do just that as possession worked its way deep into the North Ribblesdale half.
With strong, powerful pick and go’s, the pack laid the foundation and drew defenders in. When the ball was finally released to fly-half Alex Bull, he was able to find a gap in the defence close to the line and dived over for a score. Egan this time added the extras.
Laund Hill were now looking a little more comfortable and were able to win the ball back on a number of occasions but, once again, cheap mistakes and back-chat to the referee cost them valuable yards.
And once again, a quick tap penalty did a lot of damage as North Ribb exploited the unorganised defence to score a converted try to level the scores again.
The home team now had to show real resilience. But this is something that has been worked on over the past few months.
Everyone was in agreement that last season, this game would have run away from Laund Hill but a new-look training regime and a re-found confidence has allowed the team to dig deep in games.
Winning the kick-off back from a trademark Will Burns-Smith leap, Laund Hill looked to turn the screw. Unfortunately, a try-scoring opportunity was bombed as the final pass didn’t go to hand but it wasn’t long before Ribblesdale were forced to concede a penalty that Egan kicked to once again take the lead.
With the game finely in the balance heading into the final five minutes, the team that scored next looked to be favourites to take the spoils.
And disastrously for the home side, from a scrum close to their own line, the North Ribblesdale No8 picked the ball up from the base of the scrum and surged over for a try that was converted to take an 18-22 lead.
However, this Laund Hill team play to the final whistle and never give up. From a poor North Ribblesdale clearance they were able to get their hands on the ball and force their way to the Ribb line.
With the forwards taking big drives, Ribb were forced to concede a penalty and were shown a yellow card.
Heading into the final minute with a man advantage, Laund Hill’s hopes were up and they once again drove for the line. With the forwards having the upper hand, they looked to have got over for match-winner but Ribblesdale managed to hold them up in desperation.
With the referee advising both teams that the game was heading into the last play, Laund Hill started to throw the ball about and their structure went out of the window.
This produced some of the scrappiest play of the whole game but it also seemed to affect the North Ribblesdale defensive structure.
As the ball got to Egan, a piece of magic to jink through the gaps in defence saw him race away to score under the posts.
With the successful conversion being the last kick of the match, Laund Hill snatched the victory that sees them go third in the table.
Matchday squad: Earnshaw, Roberts, Egan, Crotty, Burns-Smith, Bull, Vernon; Burt, Hill, Barrett, Dalton, Black (c), Perfitt, Hiscock, Nasaqa. Replacements: Morris, Watson, Longley.
Man of the Match: Tom Egan