Leos 23 v Ripon 17
Leos good value for league win over a spirited Ripon side
Report by Peter Cooke
For the final home game of the season,Ripon were the visitors to Crag Lane.The game was generously sponsored by John Harrison,the former powerful prop and destructive opening batsman,with John welcoming a large group of friends and clients to a pre game lunch.John's main claim to fame,is that he played for School,against Michael Atherton of Manchester Grammar.Atherton ofcourse,went on to great success as the England Captain,whilst John became a Russian speaking Barrister!!!
Leos lie just above Ripon in the league table,but games between the two are generally close,with Ripon having won earlier in the season at Mallorie Park,20 - 15,whilst the official yorkshirerugby.net site had Leos at 11/10 on fav,with Ripon at even money.A close,entertaining game was therefore envisaged,particularly as both Clubs enjoyed impressive performances a week earlier,with Ripon overcoming Hullensians and Leos taking the derby at Moortown.
Inevitably,Leos made changes,with Dan Kirby and Nick Burdon coming into the back row, Tom Bindloss to full back,so Jonny Moore took the ten shirt and Mark Winter reverting to centre.Ripon fielded a relatively young side,with a sprinkling of experience.
A good crowd gathered,in pleasant,dry but blustery conditions,with Ripon having the advantage of the elements in the first half.Leos opened promisingly,with strong forward drives from Chris Lewis, James Debenham and Jordache Myerscough,setting up an early penalty oppourtunity,for Jonny Moore to put Leos up on 3 mins.
Ripon are developing an impressive forward pack and they responded by keeping the ball tight,before releasing their threequarters,for the right winger to score a relatively soft try.The conversion put the visitors 3 - 7 up on 8 mins.A good kick off put Leos back on the front foot and when Jordache Myerscough took clean lineout ball,a lovely soft,disguised,inside pass from Jonny Moore,saw Tobi Oputa running strongly on to the ball and he proved too strong for the full back.The Jonny Moore conversion put Leos back infront at 10 - 7 on just 10mins.
There was then a period of Ripon pressure,with Leos having to defend a series of scrums on their own line and holding up the visitors back row,no less than three times.Potentially,a crucial time of the game,before Ripon were penalised for holding on and Leos cleared their lines.
Stuart Baker Nick and Freear replaced Ed Connell and James Debenham in the front five but important try saving tackles still had to be made by Joe Newcombe,Tobi Oputa and Jordache Myerscough to maintain the lead.Gradually Leos gained field position,through the constant threat of Danny Thompson and Mark Winter in mid field but then an attempted interception by Ripon was clearly knocked on,yet with the referee scratching his head and to the astonishment of the crowd,he unbelievably awarded the try,giving the visitors a four point lead.
Aggrieved,the Leos forwards tore into the visitors,Nick Freear and Dan Kirby set up the ruck,veterans Martin McIntosh and Nick Burdon cleared out,quick ball was moved to the left,where Tom Bindloss made the extra man to go over in the corner and restore a one point lead.
Playing with the wind,Ripon needed a half time lead and threatened on a number of occassions,via their composed fly half and experienced winger but tackles were made across the park,particularly from Richie Howells and Joe Newcombe.Then,with half time approaching,Leos scored another of their trade mark tries,with virtually every player involved,over some 70m.Chris Lewis drove in,supported by the back row,Jordache Myerscough offloaded to Nick Freear,Mark Winter made a break,more recycling,the half backs linked like Hepworth and Hardisty of yesteryear,before Tom Bindloss popped up again on the right for his second try and a half time score of 20 - 14.
If Leos thought they had done the hard work,this was not to prove the case.There were more impressive drives from Stuart Baker, Jordache Myerscough was dominant at the lineout but Ripon maintained a threat via their tight forwards.
The Ripon fly half made a lovely,clean break requiring a Tom Bindloss try saving tackle,before Danny Thompson,Mark Winter and James Lund combined over some 50m.James Henry replaced Oputa,before a Jonny Moore penalty gave Leos a little breathing space at 23 - 14,yet Ripon came back within bonus territory on 63mins with a similar penalty.The second half was becoming a little scrappy,punctuated by the constant blast of the referee's whistle - the perils of being assessed.
Both sides were reduced to fourteen men for the final ten minutes,after technical offences but Ripon were having the better of field position and Leos were grateful for the tail wind and the boot of James Henry,to relieve the pressure.A final penalty to Leos James Henry clears the Clubhouse and the final whistle is blown.
An enjoyable,competitive game,played in tremendous spirit,with Ripon fully deserving of their losing bonus point.Another good,all round performance by Leos,with argueably,Tom Bindloss deserving of the man of the match,for his two try performance.
The days festivities were concluded with Tom Tweddle celebrating his wedding in a large marquee on the B team pitch and we wish Tom and his new bride well.Indeed,the local residents of Adel,were able to celebrate with Tom into the early hours! However,it did mean that weakened teams were sent up to Ripon for the second and third team fixtures but no doubt the players enjoyed the north Yorkshire hospitality.Indeed,photo's of the second team game have already emerged on the Ripon site.
Next week,Leos have their penultimate league game,when they make the short trip to Roundhegians,whilst the cricket season is also due to get underway.