Selby Match Report
By Billy Marsh
Match Report by Kenny Parsons
Leodiensian 3rd XV 31
T: Mac Fahy (2), Robbie Scrambler, Matt Dalingwater, Ed Austin
Conv: Rich Edgar (3/5)
Selby 4th XV 12
Leos followed up last week's comprehensive victory over Leeds Modernians with a a dominant win against a stubborn Selby outfit. This season has seen as many near misses as victories for the 3s, but it now seems like things are really starting to come together. In truth and with no disrespect intended to Selby, who defended fiercely throughout the game, the scoreline did not reflect Leos' dominance in terms of possession and territory.
In a sure sign that spring is fast approaching, Old Leos' cricket pitch was being tended as this match kicked off in glorious, warm and most un-Februarylike sunshine at Crag Lane. Immediately Leos were on the attack with the ball almost being recovered from kick off, but a knock on and then penalty given away found the home team back in their own half in short order. From a good attacking position, Selby worked the ball to their stocky 12 who brushed through a couple of weak Leos' tackles to score under the posts. The try was converted, giving Leos a rude awakening as they found themselves 0-7 down.
Bouyed by this early success Selby quickly went on the attack again, using their robust forwards to batter their way towards Leos' 22. Their momentum was stopped dead at the lineout by Man of The Match Gregor Belfield, who jumped dominantly and stole Selby ball throughout the afternoon. Gregor's aerial superiority laid the platform for a sustained period of Leos' possession, with the backs and in particular Will “Will-O” Ofosuhene causing all manner of issues for the slower, heavier Selby backline. It was from this route that Leos first crossed the Selby line. After a sustained period of forwards play deep in the Selby half the ball was worked into the backs where Robbie Scrambler punched straight through the heart of Selby's midfield to score near the sticks. Fly-half Rich Edgar, who was excellent all afternoon in partnership with young scrum half Tom Gedye, converted to bring the scores level.
There was no let up in the pressure, with Belfield continuing to secure ball at the lineout and the twin pillars of Si Howarth and Dave Harrison holding up a decent Leos scrum. This made it very difficult for Selby to secure any sustained possession, but their defence on their own line was stout and physical and looked set to hold until half time. However, the Leos' pack had other ideas when a rolling maul brought them to within five metres and skipper for the day Matt Dalingwater barged his way in. This one was not converted, but it was a very important score as failure to cross would have been a great encouragement to Selby. As it happened, Leos went in at half time with a slender 12-5 lead, having put in a strong defensive shift of their own to deny Selby just before half time.
At half time the discussion was around work rate and how this would be the basis for Leos' victory. It proved correct as Leos dominated the next 20 minutes, scoring three tries to put themselves out of sight before a late Selby revival. The 9/10 Gedye/Edgar axis was key to this and one thing which really stood out was the level of structure and composure shown in Leos' play. In a 3rd XV game one might be forgiven for expecting an element of chaotic rugby, but Leos played calm, well-organised rugby centred around Gedye and Edgar, which allowed them to remain camped in Selby's half from 40-60mins. Although the visitors deserve a lot of credit for their defence, the tries came eventually with Mac Fahy and Ed Austin both going over. Fahy then got his second try from a stunning backs move which involved the ball being worked across the pitch via a miss pass and runaround for Fahy to cross in the corner without a Selby hand being laid upon him. Edgar managed two conversions to take the score to 31-7 and out of Selby's sight.
The visitors were not done yet however and came back into the game towards the end, seemingly determined not to capitulate. The match became somewhat feisty with the odd sly and not-so-sly digs being thrown in, while referee Johnny Parker had hard work of keeping things calm. Despite Leos gaining the upper hand in the scrum, which had been a source of strength for the visitors, Selby plugged away and their scrum half finally dived over on the very last play, which was fair reward for their persistence and tenacity all afternoon.
This was the second strong performance in two weeks from Leos 3rd XV, who are starting to master a playing style very similar to the 2nd and 1st XV and execute capably. The team were organised, structured and solid in the key areas such as set piece, which when combined with real pace out wide makes them very difficult to beat at this level. Man of The Match was, as mentioned, Gregor Belfield for his dominance at the lineout and work at the breakdown, with other strong performances across the park but in particular from Rich Edgar and Tom Gedye. Next week sees Leos on the road, looking to continue this positive run against York 4th XV.