Marsh's Mighty Men Maul Mods
By Billy Marsh
Leos seal victory with final kick of the game
Following a drop out from scheduled opposition Ponte, Leos travelled across to Cookridge for what was a cliche riddled game of two halves.
As Mods were unable to field a side when these two sides were due to meet, initially an away walkover was given but to make what would have been a mundane friendly a little spicier, the league fixture was re-arranged.
Oddly enough, given their troubles this season, mods had more players than the visiting blues, some of which had to double-check which changing room they were in!
Using the hill to their advantage, Mods raced into a 10-0 lead. Shipping the ball wide both times, Leos' untested back three found themselves in a spot of bother as Harvey (formerly of this parish) bedazzled his opposite men with slick lines and an ankle breaking step.
Sensing what was looking like the wrong side of a landslide score, Leos re-grouped under the posts and came up with a new strategy.
With Tom Bartlett at 10 the pack's greed from last week was stemmed as both he and Tom Gedye dictated the flow of play, given the conditions however it was another of those where anyone wearing higher than an 8 was going to get limited ball.
With Si Haworth and Dave Harrison causing problems for the opposing front row and Guy James' scrappy hooking, Leos gained an early upper hand in the scrum which soon translated to the lineout. If Leos were going to reverse their slow start, it would have to be with a direct approach.
This theory was given a fair bit of credence with the next lineout. From the 10m line Leos drove a rolling maul within milimetres of Mods' line, a real dose of pack porn for the puritans.
Solid defence from Mods kept Leos at bay following an early peel but persistent knocking on the door eventually let Si Winterburn drive his way through for a morale boosting 5 points.
Maybe the elation, maybe a lack of focus, maybe we just couldn't cope with unstructured chaos... Whatever the reason, Leos very quick found themselves back under the posts following a broken field try.
22-5 down with a few minutes left in the half is not a great place to be and many teams would have simply accepted their fate at this point but there was hope yet for the plucky lads from the crag.
With the hill advantage in the second half and some ominous clouds, Leos carpe'd the diem and engaged their hosts in a rutting contest. Consecutive penalties for offside offences gave Leos territory that the pack made their meat and drink.
In a 15 minute spell, Leos scored 3 virtually identical tries. A lineout 5m out and a rolling maul that would have got the blazer brigade bellowing swing low. The benefactors Matt Dallingwater, Si Haworth and Si Winterburn, a solitary conversion for Charles Bach kept Leos all the more chipper.
From being so far behind at the break, Leos clawed their way back with simple ball and a resilient defence, preventing mods from unleashing their weapons out wide.
As fatigue set in however, some classic honeypotting around the ruck exposed the wings, allowing a fleet-footed modernian to snatch another 5 pointer and Leos, for all their efforts, were behind with a minute to go.
Having endured enough near misses however, Leos showed a little more note and attacked hard from the kick off, a fortuitous turnover sent the ball wide, only for Tom Gedye to be tackled high. Given the scrums were uncontested and the penalty was in the shadow of the posts, Leos threw the dice one last time.
A ball off the back saw Winterburn go over uncontested for his hat trick and a level score..
27-27 with the kick to go.
All eyes on golden boots Charles Bach, inconsistent on the day, hounded by the opposition, feeling a cool breeze through his perfectly combed beard stepped up. The result never in doubt, Charles added the extras and Leos sealed the comeback in style.
Celebrations followed with an end of year cheeseboard, homemade chutneys and cold beer. All topped off with a bath!
What a time to be a Leo!