Leos end season in style with 9 try romp at Skipton
The season opened on Sept 3,in glorious conditions, with a 54 - 0 victory over Skipton at Crag Lane. It ended in typical April weather, when Leos visited Sandylands for the final game of the 2011/12 season.
Leos arrived in style, travelling by coach and disembarking in their classical 1950's golfing plus fours attire. Leo, Colin Montgomerie,would have been proud of them. Leos travelled in some strength, with Mark Winter returning to the three quarters after his sabbatical, young Jack Haire claiming the scrum half berth and John Leatham,deservedly earning a spot on the bench, after consistent performances for the seconds.
Unfortunately,Skipton have had a surprisingly disappointing season, partly explained by injuries to some of their key players and were again under strength for their final game. looking somewhat apprehensive in the pre match preparations.
The home side actually started the better, recycling the ball with ease and it took early tackles from Stuart Heale and Richie Howells to keep them out.However,Leos struck on their first visit to the Skipton line after 5 mins.A powerful forwards drive was brought down illegally and Jack Haire reacted quickest, with a tap to Tim Fforde who powered over from close range.
Jack Haire has played with increasing confidence as the season has progressed, bossing his forwards into position and keeping his head up at the breakdown. A solid scrum, then saw Dave Barden distribute intelligently, with both James Knibbs and Danny Thompson handling, before Mark Winter marked his return, with trademark support play. Surprisingly! Dave Barden added the conversion, to put Leos 12 points clear in as many minutes.
Leos were already dominating possession and when James Debenham took clean lineout ball, a training ground move saw Neal Liu slice through the defence, without a hand being put on him. Less surprisingly, Dave Barden missed from under the sticks!
Whether it was the greasy ball, inaccurate passing, trying to throw the miracle pass or the resolute Skipton defence, Leos then managed to blow a number of further chances, before Skipton worked their way back into the game, via a couple of penalties, to give a half time score of 6 - 17.
James Lund replaced James Knibbs and coaches Matt Greenwood and Si Worrall called for a more clinical end to the season in the second half.
Leos continued to enjoy most of the possession and field position, but in front of their vocal home crowd,Skipton defended with spirit and tenacity. It took 10 mins to break down the home defence, before Jordache Myerscough,adding basketball to his tennis and rugby skills, put James Lund into space, for the winger to round his man and score a text book, bonus point try. Obviously Dave Barden missed the conversion!.
Ferocious home defence, aided by Leos conceding soft penalties, kept Leos out for a further 10mins,before a sensational handling move involving half the team, initiated by Stuart Heale,continued by Jack Haire and Mark Winter, saw the newly converted prop Stuart ,Baker, power over for a well deserved try. We all know what happened next, yes Dave Barden missed the conversion!
John Leatham came on for the final 20mins,before Mark Winter regathered a clearance kick, evaded three defenders, before feeding Chris Lewis and Tim Fforde who continued the breathtaking move, martin mcintosh recycled, Dave Barden short pass found Danny Thompson, who brushed aside a tired defender, for a truly terrific try. Dave Barden added the extras to give a score line of 6 - 34.
A virtually identical try followed soon after, again direct running from Stuart Heale set up the play, this time John Leatham and James Debenham recycled, tom Bindloss made the extra man, before Neal Liu finished powerfully in the corner. Unbelievably, Dave Barden added a towering, majestic touchline conversion!!
Si Worrall entered the fray for the final 10mins and immediately made a line break, but a superb covering tackle saved a further try. martin mcintosh then took a succession of strikes against the head, which allowed Tim Fforde to set up breaks from the base of the scrum. Against a tiring defence, Si Worrall linked with Richie Howells who actually crossed the line, before generously feeding Neal Liu,for the wingers hat trick try on 73mins.
The final score came from another dominant scrum, with Jordache Myerscough feeding a delicious short ball to Si Worrall, who's line of running was too much for the Skipton defence. The conversion by Dave Barden gave a final score of 6 - 53.
Leos were worthy winners appreciated by a large vocal home set of supporters and a large gathering of away supporters who had travelled over to enjoy the final game of the season.
Leos man of the match? Well if you could make it a team award it would go to the entire squad for some vintage open rugby. But as you have to choose one man it went to Neal Liu for his outstanding hat trick.
Elsewhere, a narrow win for Wath over Salem, means they are likely to take the second promotion spot, if they win their outstanding games. For Leos, there is the traditional Dekker Hall end of season festivities and Awards Presentation, before we host the Medics for their now traditional end of season game.
The supporters would like to thank and congratulate coaches Greenwood and Worrall on their brand of expansive and enjoyable rugby and the forty first team players who put their plans into effect. The golfers set off for the drinking dens of Skipton,Addingham,Ilkley,Otley et al,but are reminded that pre season training starts in early July! Enjoy the summer.
Report by Peter Cooke