Yarnbury 15 v Leos 25
Leos round off season in fine style with local derby win at Yarnbury
A season which started on Aug 21 at West Leeds,finally came to an end nearly nine months later,when Leos faced another local derby,this time in Horsforth,at fourth placed Yarnbury.
Leos have had a tremendous end to the season,winning seven of the last eight games,including a convincing victory at promoted Huddersfield YM and knew that a bonus point victory,would take them above their opponents on points difference.According to esteemed Chairman Alun Gabriel,this would mark Leos highest league finish since 1822,a year that saw the Battle of Pinchincha,the death of poet Shelley and the birth of Ulysses S Grant.Perhaps not historically accurate,but Leos are the only Club to have managed to stay in exactly the same League,since the introduction of the pyramid system!!!!.
Leos were missing leading try scorer Mark Winter,with Will Levitt moving out to centre,but Martin McIntosh and Lenny Lane returned to the forwards after lengthy injuries and James Farad occupied the bench,after returning from International duty.
Yarnbury elected to play into the strong breeze,blowing directly down the park and it was them who opened up with greater determination and urgency.They stole the first lineout,kept the ball close and tight via their experienced forwards,took the first scrum against the head,accurately moved the ball from right to left,for their left winger to go in unopposed at the corner on just 4 mins.Not an auspicious start for the large band of travelling Leos support.
Leos responded with a penalty kick to the corner,but the structured home defence held firm,before the fly half cleared their lines.Leos were beginning to look more dangerous in broken play and it was the dazzling footwork of Nick Wainwright which made the first clean break, Dave Barden was on his inside in support,before finding WillLevitt on his outside,who showed good pace to burst to the line on 15mins.Leos newly elected Player of the Season, James Henry,added the two points to give Leos the lead.
Playing into the wind,it was Yarnbury who were playing the more controlled football,but there were glimpses of Barbarian style rugby from Leos,with James Knibbs always looking threatening in the centre, Jordache Myerscough and Tim Fforde enjoying the firm ground and Dave Robinson and Ed Connell having a fierce physical confrontation,at the scrums.
Neal Liu demonstated his blistering speed when linking from full back,found James Lund in support,but the winger was well tackled into touch,just short of the line.leos were beginning to enjoy field position,but there seemed no way through a resolute defence,until Lenny Lane and the rampaging Tim Fforde combined to make 40m.Quick ball was denied,but the home side were penalised and James Henry extended the lead to five points,with the straight forward penalty from infront of the posts.
Arguably,it was Yarnbury playing the more intelligent football in the conditions and a clever chip through,threatened the Leos line,until James Knibbs appeared from nowhere,to pick up and brilliantly clear the danger.However,half time arrived with a score of only 5 -- 10,having played with the benefit of possibly a 14 point wind behind them.Coach Matt Greenwood had work to do at half time to raise the intensity and reduce the error count for the second half.
Leos started the half with renewed purpose,the ball was kept tighter,Lenny Lane and Jordache Myerscough ran with greater determination,Dave Robinson,Martin McIntosh and Ed Connell drove Yarnbury back at the fringes and Stuart Baker came inside looking for a greater workload.
James Henry found a terrific touch,James Debenham sought to justify his award of Most Improved Player,at the Players Award Ceremony the night before,by taking home ball,Martin McIntosh enjoying a sensational game,organised the drive and Leos forwards powered over from eight metres out,with Dave Barden awarded the try,to give Leos a lead of 5 - 15 on 49mins.
The trick was repeated a few minutes later,when Nick Wainwright accurately found touch from a penalty,more ball for James Debenham, Dave Robinson applied the initial power,the roll started,the forwards drove on from fully 15m out,for Ed Connell to gain good body position and the Irish prop proved unstoppable,with his tremendous leg drive.
Yarnbury responded in kind.They immediately went on the attack,handled swiftly in the threequarters,before chipping for the line.Leos scrambled the ball away,but it was now the Yarnbury lineout which applied the pressure.Three thrusts were repelled,but at the fourth attempt,a gap was found and a forward drove over to reduce the margin to just ten points.
More was to follow,when in the increasingly blustery conditions,a clearance kick was charged down and Avison,the Yorkshire Under 20's centre,regathered to score.Neither kicker was enjoying much success in the conditions,but the score was back to 15 - 20 on 62mins.
Skipper Dave Robinson was replaced by James Farad for the final quarter.Both sides began to make errors,but Leos still looked more dangerous in broken play.Stuart Baker,James Knibbs, Will Levitt and Tim Fforde combined over 50m,but the scoring pass went to ground.The Yarnbury forwards began to tire and gave penalties away at the breakdown,in an attempt to slow the game,whilst on 68mins,they lost a forward to the sin bin for an unnecessary stamping offence.
Nick Wainwright found another good touch and this time Jordache Myerscough rose to take clean front ball,Martin McIntosh again shouted the instructions and like watching the Gloucester pack of the 90's,Leos effeciently rumbled over the line,with Dave Barden again emerging with the ball for his second try and importantly the bonus point.
Leos attempted to end the season in style,when Lenny Lane devestatingly broke from the base of the final scrum,found Nick Wainwright in support,who gave the 'scoring' pass to Dave Barden.With the line open and his first hat trick available,the flanker celebrated,only to drop the ball over the line.To the disbelief of all present and the referee!!!!!. unable to keep a straight face,the final whistle of the season went and a final score of 15 - 25 -Dave Barden was unusually quiet!!!!.
Thanks to the hospitability of all Yarnbury members after the game which was appreciated by the large band of Leos supporters.Yarnbury themselves have had a great season and finished up on 74 points equal with Leos.
Leos squad followed this on by returning back to crag lane to celebrate in style and rounded this off by visiting our new sponsors in the hope of getting some early bonus points for next season-Only the first team squad will understand!!
Congratulations to all players and coaches on a highly successful season,including some exhilarating rugby in dry conditions,although the backs may need to remember that they cannot score 'Barbarian' tries,without the forwards winning the ball for them!!!.
From the supporters point of view,it has been a terrrific seasion and particularly noticeable,that the team selected on a tuesday,has virtually always turned out on the saturday - far from the case in previous seasons and a great testimony to the team spirit and commitmernt of this really good Leos squad of 2010/2011.
Congratulations also go to the Ladies,where the 1st XV were northern Champions and cleverly avoided having to compete in the southern dominated Premier League and also fielded a successful 2 XV,who competed against other Clubs first teams.
The mens 2nd XV finished third in their Merit League,playing against a host of higher ranked clubs and indeed,for older Members in far flung lands,they may be interested to learn that they will be competing with Morley 2nd XV next season - times have changed.
Rumours are that James Forton may retire - how often can one player retire? - Dont do it Jimmy, you are too long retired and you have still got the qualities and experience in you to be part of the front row elite for one more season!!!
James Haslam may travel the world,on a medical time out and that in these difficult recessionary times!!.Otherwise the squad appears intact and may be supplemented by an Old Boy returning from the National Leagues and following in the footsteps of other recent County representatives from LGS including Paul Woodhead,John Finch,Mick McCarthy and Jon Eagle.
Your Captain Dave Robinson has worked tirelessly to secure Sponsorship for next season and in what has surprisingly become long,drawn out,detailed negotiations ,conducted exclusively at their premises,it is believed that matters are nearing a climax and that the identity of the new sponsors will be revealed shortly?!.
Once again congratulations to all the 1st XV squad and to our two inspiring coaches Matt Greenwood and Si Worrall who have made this a really great season.
Enjoy the summer and anyone proposing to get married next season should make an early application to Matt Greenwood!!
Report Peter Cooke
Leos scorers:Tries Levitt,Bardenx2 Connell Conversion Henry Penalty Henry