PEAKS & TROUGHS!
WEST PARK LEEDS 38 - 20 SKIPTON
BY MICK SMITH
This re-arranged but meaningless game in the context of league positions strangely resulted in an enthralling encounter. The earlier season meeting fell foul of the weather, and negotiations to find a suitable date for both clubs were doomed to failure.
West Park had previously arranged a good send off, after what was to be their last game of the season, for retiring 1st team player Glen Kilvington, after 30 years with the club. Skipton on the other hand had many players already committed to the gruelling Three Peaks Trek to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. West Park stuck to their guns and would not be moved from 27th April, Skipton, on the other hand, could only muster seven regular 1st team players.
In time honoured fashion the RFU insisted that Skipton play the match or be deducted five points. It then condoned our use of unregistered players in order that the Reds could field a side, but stated we would have to concede the match regardless of result. Followed all that?
Enter team manager Tracy Murray, magic phone calls, prodigal sons et al, and eighteen men proudly donned the Red shirt.
Having given Moortown an eighty point drubbing West Park may well have expected a similar result given Skipton’s season so far, and they got off to a flying start with a try and conversion within a minute of the kick off.
Skipton’s loyal followers may also have feared the worst, both were wrong. The Reds struck back causing panic in West’s defense as returning former captain and club favourite, Jonathan Richards cut through their defense to threaten the home line. A meagre Alex Naylor penalty their only reward.
A misunderstanding in midfield gifted West Park a second try and Skipton were down fourteen points in as many minutes. The disparate Reds began to form some cohesion and looked the better attacking side, with Matt Speres terrorising the home defense. Before the half hour a brilliant team effort and individual skill saw Richards cross the line, with Alex Naylor adding the extras (“why did they leave?” was the common thought amongst the fans). West Park added two further tries and a conversion to lead 26-10 before surrendering the considerable slope and wind advantage at half-time.
The home teams’ defense was then put under the cosh in the second half, and the Reds scored two well crafted tries from Matt Speres. Had this ad hoc side been playing together another forty minutes the result would undoubtedly have gone the way of Skipton. West Park replied with two tries and conversion. Dreamers can only imagine what the season could have been like.
Every man played his part, no shirking responsibility, and all deserve a mention. Speres, Richards and Naylor were superb, as was retired stalwart prop Paul (I’ll be fit for next season) Shearer. The back row combination of Josh Beck, Ben Hall and Jimmy Boynton harassed and worried West Parks’ attack and had many penetrating runs.
Hooker Malc Dutton and prop Chris Wright aided by Paul Shearer proved a formidable front row. John Grayston stepped up to the plate with some hard carries, while fellow second-rower Rick Willsher was dependable at line-out and created his usual havoc in the loose.
Miff Smith at nine gave fast, clean service to his half back partner Darren Howson, who, given the time and space provided by the quick service showed some deft handling in midfield. Young Frank Trueman on the right wing looks an excellent prospect and proved a handful for Wests’ defense. Jordan Wilson coped manfully out of position on the wing, while Scott Kay, on Army leave, was rock solid at centre, replacements Jordan Emmison and Carl Nicholson both put in useful stints.
Team manager Tracy Murray and stand in coach Chris Sheehan stood proud as the final whistle blew, job accomplished. Job accomplished too for the sterling efforts of our own charity fundraisers on the Three Peaks Trek, when they surpassed their £1000 target, and added £1600 to the well deserving coffers of The Teenage Cancer Trust.
Yarnbury are our visitors next Saturday 4th May 3pm kick off for our last game of the season, your support will be greatly appreciated, as will further donations to the Trek fund, lets see if we can top £2000.