By Billy Marsh
Match Report by Tom Grieves - The Bard of Birkenhead
Saturday saw Leos 1XV travelling to Wetherby on a sunny morning in West Yorkshire. The exposed (and well looked after) pitch can be subject to swirling winds as there is little wind cover around and Saturday seemed to follow this trend, with wind concentrating in one corner.
It was obvious that kicking into this corner could give a huge advantage. Leos began the half on the front foot and looked to do exactly that, through the boot of Ed Farmer. Although Leos were certainly on top from the early exchanges and Wetherby struggled to escape the naughty corner, it was the hosts who chalked up the first points.
Good running from Wetherby 8 off the back of a blindside scrum put in his back-row partner after Leos defence seemed to ‘bite’ hard on the 8, leaving space outside. 5-0 Wetherby, Unconverted.
After this wake-up call Leos started to build pressure again and were soon back in Wetherby’s half, forcing penalties, and the octopus (who managed to offload every carry) Wetherby no. 8 found himself in the bin after going off his tentacles.
Good sustained pressure from Leos but a slight lack of composure in the crucial phases was frustrating to watch.
Wetherby punished Leos for failing to convert pressure into cold hard cash and Leos were caught short changed at the shop.
Despite a never-give-up chase from George at 12 and Jacko at fullback, Wetherby went 70m through their pacey 13 and Leos scramble defense couldn’t regather in time, with Wetherby flopping over the next phase. Converted, 12-0 Wetherby.
Physio Pete doesn’t say much during a game but when he does say something, it’s usually spot on. Trust the system and be patient was the message, and Leos came out at the break rejuvenated. A couple of changes (Harry at prop, MPH back on, Farmer to 9 and George Lane on at 10) gave the game a new dynamic.
After some excellent phase play and a less frantic style of play Leos were able to find holes in Wetherby’s defense and Jim Langtree sprinted over the line in the corner, 2 from 2 for the Lang. Converted out wide by the general, 12-7 to Wetherby.
A bit more composure and some clear decision-making saw Farmer have a stab at 3 points in front of the posts, chipping away at the Wetherby lead, 12-10 to the hosts.
Leos really started to show some #beliefandenergy in the second half performance and to a man the desire was clear to see.
Faz carried himself to oblivion and had to come off with his shoulder hanging on by a thread, MPH demonstrated why he keeps telling everyone he’s a 6 with some key turnovers in the final third of the game and Scoop had clearly sharpened his axe before the game and was in the mood for chopping.
Similarly, in the backs Jacko again showed his ability to ghost past defenders from fullback making a 70-yard break and George Faulkner showed real class in the centres - carrying hard, tackling hard and giving the ball at the right times.
It is testament to the team performance that in a half where Ed Farmer scored two quality tries his name is hardly mentioned (sorry general). It’s the phase play, the trust in each other, simplicity and clarity of thinking which ruled the second half and after a frustrating first half it was refreshing to watch.
Wetherby 12-20 Leos
Onwards and upwards for the Leos train and thanks to Wetherby for playing a tough and direct game which will serve them well in the season to come I am sure.
Leos – George Faulkner
Wetherby – 13