1st XV - Report
|Castleford||19||vs||20||West Park Leeds|
Close encounter of the third kind
West Park Leeds recorded their first league victory of the current season at the third attempt although as with the previous two contests it proved to be yet another close encounter.
Despite this the visitors were soon into their stride, taking the lead after ten minutes. No 8 John Fletcher intercepted a pass from a line out, looking to have a clear run to the line. However, he was caught 10 metres short. Quick ball was moved first left then back inside to send Alistair Booth who had drifted off his wing ghosting through some pretty shoddy tackling to cross by the posts.
Chris Bailey-Gibbs had added the conversion and was on target again after 25 minutes. A clever chip from scrum half Will Morecombe created panic in the home ranks, super quick flanker Sam Hopton catching the defender in front of the posts, forcing the penalty for not releasing.
The home pack was going well, enjoying plenty of possession, with No 8 Chris Redfern posing plenty of questions. Two tries in the last five minutes of the half were just reward, the second superbly converted from wide on the right to give the hosts a 12 v 10 halftime lead that was not undeserved.
Cas continued the offensive early in the second period but fly half Bailey-Gibbs cleared his lines to ease the pressure. Fullback Simon Towler entered the line to good effect but the final pass went straight into touch, a feat that both sides managed to achieve on more than one occasion.
A penalty from 30 metres out after an off the ball tackle restored the away lead. From the restart centre Tim Wetjen charged down in midfield, that man Sam Hopton leading the race for the ball. Second row Glynn Dean picked up the pieces, finding Richard Storey in close support, the hooker happily romping over on the left.
Bailey-Gibbs nailed the conversion and a score of 12 v 20 promised some breathing space. Not for long as the never say die home men created space from a scrum, dangerous fullback Dale Turner racing round behind the posts, the conversion bringing the hosts to within one point with fifteen minutes to go.
This set up a tense final quarter of an hour, made somewhat more bearable for the visiting support by the hosts’ propensity to concede penalties, leading to the visitors only unsuccessful shot at goal but more importantly relieving pressure at crucial times.
The final whistle signalled the end of an undistinguished contest, leaving the visitors with a number of questions to ponder. The hosts may have lacked finesse in certain areas but there appeared to be no shortage of competitiveness or team spirit, contrary to earlier reports.
West Park’s testing start to the season continues on Saturday when they host last season’s close rivals Bradford Salem although the visitors have also made an uncertain start to the new campaign.