By Billy Marsh
Anything less than the best is a felony (Ice, Vanilla, 1990)
There was something in the air that day, the sun shone bright , the mud was loose and the Leos boys decided it was time to make it happen.
Having played in a titanic clash just a few weeks prior, it was clear that today’s game meant business, a testing journey down to cookridge saw the 3s nick the game with a closing kick. Today the message was much clearer, set the tone from minute one.
Mods wrestled hard in the early exchanges, repelling Leos tight play, stopping the older, bigger boys in their tracks but an eventual penalty proved to be the teller with Gregor beanpoling his way to some decent possession, the resultant phases finished with Big Willy O breaking the field only to find three onrushing team mates all chomping at the bit for some ball... the 4 on 1 utilised hard with Killian Lines eventually scoring out wide with a try that set the tone.
Minutes later, Leos were back in with a second, not just any try thought mind, the kind kind that props google late at night when the kids are in bed. Young hooker Tom scooped the ball from a ruck, to an onrushing Si Howarth, who in a moment of sincerest charity offloaded to Adam Ketteringham who whilst bracing for a tackle managed to step and weave his way over the whitewash for a career first try. Truly magical front three moments like these are not for the faint of heart but oh my was it something pretty.
Leos soon scored a third through James Shipley out wide and all of a sudden, a perverse sense of de ja vu swept across some in attendance; the fixture almost reversed, it could have gone either way.
Mods stepped up their game and utilised a heavy pack at scrum time in an effort to choke the Leos into submission; none did pass although there were a few scares, in particular from the menacing 10/12 axis who caused nothing but bother all day!
Leos secured a nectarous bonus point at the death of the half through Greg who showed some wonderfully slick hands.
Some naughty hooking from the mods pack saw ref Johnny Parker decide enough was enough as he drew a close to the first stanza. Leos 20 points up but with 4 kicks and plenty of tries left on the park knew that the next 40 needed more fruit.
Mods came out hungry, employing a very direct approach that saw the opposition eat up most of the pitch until a Ben Jones intervention caused all manner of bother amongst the men in red and Leos cleared their lines.
Leos hit back as best they could but the red tide was constant, someone, or something had rattled the visitors who came alive with vigour until a turnover gifted Shipley with his 2nd, the winger pinned his ears back for a dart from deep that put the game to bed.
Tom Gedye was the next benefactor who, thanks to Leos better reading of the ref capitalised from a penalty call. Hard to imagine that this was the same team who just a few months earlier fell foul of a similar call; despite how the referee may point their arms, what they say is the law and that’s what Leos took for gospel... Si Haworth claims he saw the space out wide but there was a collective collusion out wide for this one.
Angry, visibly angry, mods hit back hard, taking territory and a few names on the way. Successive scrums exposed a touch of underweightedness on behalf of the Crag men but ultimately, a powerful and undying run from the mods 12 saw the visitors snatch a five pointer.
Upset that points had gone against them, Leos hit back hard with Jake McKinley befuddling Mod for a day Rob Shaw to win an early scrum which was recycled for Alex Renwick to take a final five pointer.
The final moments of the game were filled with angst and aches, neither side really took control with both visibly feeling the effects of a boggy battle. A knock on called it quits and Leos drank from the sweet chalice that is victory.
With most of the squad being involved for a good proportion of the season it was truly a relief to not only play but play well. The 3s have fought hard this year and whilst a few games have been edged, plenty have been lost in the dying embers, plenty of points have gone awry when they were sorely needed. Today was different.
The talent is clear to see and today, despite the points left, was a big turning point for a side who finally gelled. The pack hunted and gathered as one, the backs picked their runs and fronted up where they needed to.
Sam Watkiss and Tom Gedye bossed the ruck in what is the most delectable of scenarios, two excellent 9s seamlessly interchanging to keep the backs fed... Gedyes high tackle will forever live in the realms of the pixies give the poor lad is punching 5ft at best, but as they say, the ref never changes his mind!
Gregor was a menace in the air whilst Killian and Ben also secured their own ball well. Aside from overthrows and infringements, Leos had a 100% record at the line. Tom Smethan played no small part in this with his bullet-like precision finding his man again and again.
Adam Ketteringham played what was perhaps his best game in the blue and gold, breaking the line, securing turnovers and bothering the opposition all day long. He deserved the man of the match mantle but is steadily followed up by Will Ofushene who created oodles of space for his team mates to convert, a lynchpin in the centres if ever there was one.
Onwards and upwards for the 3s who clearly have the bit between their teeth. The next few weeks are certain to be a rollercoaster ride; strap yourself in and feel the Gs.