Leos made the short trip to West Park on Saturday in the hope of clearing another hurdle as this remarkable season progresses.
Having overcome Moortown and Yarnbury so far this year, West Park represented the last of the North Leeds rugby brotherhood to overcome, and Leos were under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead. Local derbies tend to disregard form, and Leos knew that their neighbours at the Sycamores were probably SickO’Leos claiming local bragging rights.
The day started with a late work commitment meaning Jimmy Henry missed the Clubhouse meet, a theme which was to develop in Jimmy’s afternoon as the day progressed.
Starting with the slight slope on West Park’s superb surface in their favour, Leos welcomed back Messrs Myerscough and Wainwright into the team, and took the opportunity to rest Lenny Lane
and Will Levitt
. From the kick off, West Park failed to control the ball and conceded a penalty which, amazingly, Jimmy slotted to give Leos a 3 point lead and a misplaced sense of optimism. West Park were further stunned by the visitors when excellent work from Danny Thompson
and Mark Winter
carved an opening which Neil Liu gladly accepted to score close to the posts.
Unfortunately, Henry was unable to add the extras and Leos led 8-0. There followed a period where Leos were proving almost impossible to control, and the pressure resulted in a series of penalties which, unfortunately, Henry was unable to convert into points.
A West Park penalty closed the gap to 8-3 but then on 20 minutes, an initial Si Worrall burst drew in defenders and the ball swung wide to find skipper Dave Robinson
trundling like an out of control Eddie Stobart lorry down the centre channel. A jacknife incident seemed inevitable, but somehow the Rubenesque skipper threw an outrageous 15 metre pass to an astonished Tim sleight
, who gathered the ball and his composure to squeeze neatly into the corner. Unfortunately, Henry was unable to add the extras and Leos led 13-3.
From this point onwards, West Park opted for a less cavalier approach, keeping the ball tight and driving through the forwards. This tighter game paid dividends for the hosts as the resultant series of close combat situations convinced the entirely even-handed official to start to apply the letter of the law with forensic exactitude. This meant that the game became a somewhat stolid affair as both sides incurred the wrath of the “sole arbiter of fact”. A seemingly endless series of penalties followed, 2 of which West Park converted to close the half time score to 13-9 to Leos.
Having had the better of the closing 20 minutes of the first half, West Park maintained their chokehold on the game for a further 10 minutes in the second half, and Leos were further hampered by the loss of Thompson and Sleight to injury. The game was deteriorating into a staccato affair until Jordache Myerscough
and Dave Barden decided to take matters into their own hands with a series of Rhino-like sorties into the opposition. Barden, in particular, is no stranger to the Rhino moniker, since as a dentist he is constantly accused of being thick-skinned and charging a lot.
This seemed to re-invigorate the visitors, and a multi-phase breakout led to a penalty and, following a CSI Bramhope investigation, a yellow card for the West Park miscreant. Unfortunately, Jimmy Henry etc. etc...
This change of attitude and emphasis led to Leos adopting control of the final half hour of the game as the realisation that a free-flowing approach was impossible in the circumstances. This pragmatic approach yielded a further penalty to Leos which Henry slotted with calm assurance, the ball striking a pig as it cleared the uprights.
Leos were happy to see out the remaining minutes to claim a 16-9 victory.
Another solid performance, then, which sees Leos maintain their position at the top of Y2. West Leeds are next week’s visitors to the Crag, and their reputation for playing an expansive game should see a more entertaining contest than the necessarily stolid fare of the last 2 weeks.
Unfortunately, on leaving West Park, Jimmy Henry missed the turning out of the car park, so was unable to see Stu Baker sporting the MOM waistcoat back at Leos. Jimmy’s job involves the marketing and trialling of Adidas sports footwear, but it is clear that the experimental oversize comedy Clown shoe boot worn by our talismanic ten in this game, is unlikely to prove a hit.