West Park Leeds went down to their heaviest league defeat of the season with an under par performance away to a well-schooled Selby. There was a distinctly end of term feel about the contest as a promising opening subsided into a tame ending.
The visitors started brightly with intelligent kicking combined with strong forward drives gaining good ground. The lead was taken on the quarter hour. Gareth Phillips returned a poor defensive kick to the home 22. Quick recycling sent scrum half Jack Bickerdike off on a sniping run, centre Ben Morgan timing his charge to perfection to cross halfway out on the right.
The lead was short lived. An attack down the left was well held. When the ball came back inside one of the home second rows juggled with the ball. He seemed certain to lose it, in so doing throwing the defence off balance as he plunged over between the posts, making for a simple conversion after twenty minutes.
The remainder of the half was fairly even as both sides tried to play an expansive game that was all too often marred by handling errors. The visitors would have settled for a halftime deficit of two points but disaster struck from the final play of the half. Lineout ball on the 22 was well claimed but instead of clearing to touch a lengthy maul was allowed to develop. Eventually possession was turned over allowing lively home fly half Josh Cruise to jink over then tag on the conversion for a halftime score of 14 v 5.
As if this wasn’t bad enough Selby scored inside the opening two minutes of the second period. A handling move appeared to have broken down in midfield, the ball being dropped but the referee unexpectedly allowed play to continue, the ball being hacked over the line for grateful scrum half Joe Butcher to touch down.
Somewhat thrown by the turn of events West Park seemed bereft of ideas and lacking in organisation, conceding two further tries in the third quarter.
Skipper Bickerdike led the fight back, twice being involved in the move that saw wingman Phillips stride over on the right to narrow the gap, fly half Phil Davies converting.
The revival proved all too brief as the hosts added two more tries through their forwards.
The visitors had the last word when centre Stewart McLure went over in the final minute but this truly was a performance to forget.
There is absolutely no doubt that the players will need to lift their game considerably when they entertain newly crowned Yorkshire Two champions Barnsley on Saturday in the final league game of the season.