“The feeling remains that there is a big performance in this West Park squad. Saturday would be a good time to produce it.”
The pre-match notes proved remarkably prescient as West Park Leeds produced one of their best displays of the season to comprehensively annihilate a below par Moortown.
It was the quality as much as the quantity of some of the tries that impressed in a performance that was sprinkled with more than a touch of stardust.
The visitors started strongly, controlling the opening five minutes and coming close to an early score. Committed home defence saw the ball held up over the line. At the resulting scrum the home back row turned over the opposition, a recurring feature of the day, Luke Gamble breaking out to halfway.
Ball secured again, John Fletcher exchanged passes with his scrum half, the hard working No 8 going over for the opening try. Centre Ollie Trace added the first of ten successful conversions from twelve attempts and his team were off and running.
The second try came quickly, Sam Hopton profiting from more good work by scrum half Will Morecombe and fellow flanker Andrew Major to streak over.
Moortown hit back, switching the ball left then right where lock Alex Smith made the extra man on the outside to score in the corner.
The restart kick saw a spectacular take by the athletic Hopton, his feed to centre Brad Pryjmachuk being quickly switched to send Andy Cromack careering over.
The home halfbacks were exerting full control, Chris Bailey-Gibbs kicking deep into the 22. The forwards produced the drive, Ashley Stead leading the way for towering lock Nick Hartley to charge over in unstoppable fashion, bonus point secured inside twenty minutes.
The attacks were relentless, winger Alistair Booth sprinting 50 metres deep into away territory, sparking some Barbarians style handling that culminated in fly half Bailey-Gibbs producing a neat shimmy and side step to glide over for the next score.
Fittingly, tireless hooker Tom Dalton, who had fielded just about every restart kick, had the last word, supporting the selfless Morecombe to go in for the 6th try of the half, Trace’s well struck conversion bringing the interval score to 40 v 5.
The pattern continued straight after the break, powerful prop Stead ploughing over in determined fashion after just two minutes.
Feisty wingman Gamble, who had produced a number of strong runs and crunching tackles, went in for the next try five minutes later.
A searing 50 metre break by Cromack saw Morecombe, one of several contenders for man of the match, gain due reward, taking the fullback’s unselfish offload to sprint clear for the next try.
To their credit, the visitors never stopped trying, refusing to stoop to cheap shots and producing a well-worked try just before the hour, the ball spinning wide to send winger Danny Ward away on the left.
Skipper John Fletcher gave way, going onto the touchline to exhort his men to further efforts. Andrew Major took over No 8 duties and immediately set up Morecombe for his second try, the scrum half producing a classic show and go.
His hat trick opportunity came a few minutes later but in what was a feature of the game the ball was moved to the man in space, Bailey-Gibbs going in for his second try.
There was no let up, Morecombe and Cromack combining beautifully to send Gamble powering away for the twelfth try of the day to take the score to 80 v 12.
The performance was far from perfect as the final ten minutes saw the ball being kicked away aimlessly and too much individualism creeping in. Despite this, replacement flanker Andy Brodie put winger Booth away for what seemed a fair try, only a marginal forward pass decision preventing the baker’s dozen.
The game finished with giant lock Josh Malkinson held up over the visitors’ line as the Moortown defenders refused to buckle despite the hammering they had just taken.
Saturday sees a very different proposition as West Park host promotion chasing Yarnbury.