The Joy of Six
By Billy Marsh
Leos prosper in a game of two halves.
Having tasted victory in the previous two encounters this season, Leos were hungry for a third on their trip to Leeds Medics.
With a squad of 20+ it certainly felt as though the Crag men had the ideal resources for the job and fortunately so as the home side were a couple short before the whistle so Dan Agahi offered his services as did George Chandler and Luke Wyman at varying intervals.
Medics dominated the early exchanges and the game had a frantic feel to it which suited the young doctors. Thankfully for Leos some handling errors gave a reprieve.
Unable, it seemed, to get a cogent plan together the first half hour was spent camped in the Leos half. Defence held strong and the home side couldn’t force their way through, their centres and 8 carried hard but handling errors out wide put an end to any try scoring ambitions the medics may have harboured.
Leos finally started clicking when they exploited their size advantage. A series of rolling mauls from the lineout set a solid platform and when the medics gave away a succession of penalties, the punishing boot of Rich Edgar pushed Leos deep into enemy territory. A 5m lineout saw a slew of bodies over the whitewash with Si Haworth being the man over the ball.
Louis Jones was very quickly over the whitewash with a gap out wide being exploited. Some classy link play saw the winger bisect the posts virtually unscathed.
12-0 up at half time was a decent return for an opening performance which left a lot to be desired.
The start of the second half was the exact opposite of what Leos needed, a series of penalties conceded and the medics helter skelter running befuddling and bemusing the boys in blue saw a crash ball break cover and canter away for a try, 12-7 and it was game on!
An injury to Padhraic Naughton forced some switching of the guard, Ben Pearce took over at 9 having put in a useful shift in the 12 channel.
An opportune turnover from Billy Marsh set the Leos hares running; Guy James and Will Humphries linked up well to punch through the Medics white wall and successive forward phases gave Leos front foot ball. Willy O shimmied through the blanket but came agonisingly close; white line fever kicked in as several forwards tried to snatch a bit of meat but the Medics were not there to make up the numbers and defended valiantly. Several phases built up before Jamie Rea found a yawning gap to slink into, snatching a pivotal try.
Medics managed to keep the fight up and came within mere inches of the Leos line before a turnover was conceded. It was from here that Leos started to open up, some bonkers, sevens-esque antics ensued with the forwards finding green pasture and some audacious offloads saw extra metres gained. Kenny Parsons found himself in no mans land at one point, making about 40m before being hauled down, subsequent bursts from James Debenham and Jamie Scott got Leos closer but a turnover doused any resurgent flames.
A rogue kick from handed went straight down Louis’ throat. The wing gladly returned and made significant yardage. Against a scattered back line, hands did it as George Chandler finished off the move to nab the bonus point.
Another errant kick from Medics left Archie Pine-Coffin free to roam this time, as he glided through the pack managed to get some breath back for another series of rumbles and a hard probe down the left hand side soon resulted in a 5th try, Billy Marsh the benefactor, having lost a contact lenses he was found napping on the wing, a deft offload from Willy O saw a slow motion dive to the corner put the game to bed.
Ben Pearce had the final say on matters as a dummy from the base of a ruck was enough to find his way over and through the exhausted arms of two would be defenders.
The whistle blew on what was a hotly contested encounter. Medics are a strong side, fit and quick over the ball, they were robbed by a few handling errors and perhaps a lack of structure towards the end and the score line doesn’t really tell a fair story of what was a tightly fought contest. Sore ribs the next day is always a clear sign of a battle... That and the extra Epsom salts.
A thank you to the referee on the day is also necessary, a young ref who was also being reviewed, he managed the game well and was fair with advantage. Both sides came perilously close to a yellow card through separate spates of indescretion but both equally avoided such a fate, much to the benefit of the game.
After a very poor first half, Leos recovered well and displayed a real maturity to their game. Key to this was Ben Pearce commanding the ruck and directing the pack, he gets the man of the match nod for his performance, one of his first for the club as it happens!
The league season is coming to a close and it has been a fruitful campaign for the side, only one game where they’ve failed to secure a bonus point is nothing to be sniffed at. Maybe next season it’ll be our time!