Keighley smash and grab
By Billy Marsh
Leos fight but fall short away to a spirited Keighley side
With both sides having games called off on Thursday night, a scramble through their respective Filofaxes pulled up a rare clash between Leos and Keighley.
Leos arrived a touch later than their opponents were expecting them but traffic wasn’t really on their side. A quick 10 minute warm up saw a solitary sweat break amongst the Leos pack who hoisted Carl and Ben up for good measure.
Today’s referee was officiating his first senior game and so was suitably mic’d up with the assessors clipboard staring menacingly his way.
Leos received as play kicked off, early exchanges suggested that Keighley were going to be a handful around the ruck, attacking the ball and getting their mitts on it more often than not. An uncharacteristic kick from Kenny Parsons resulted in a knock on and some territory deep in the opposition’s half.
Playing their phase game eventually bore fruit as a returning Andrew Kennedy took the ball at speed a light jog and put on some delicate footwork to weave past two onrushing attackers, round the fullback and between the sticks for glory. The big man is back!
Visibly frustrated, Keighley showed their teeth with a turnover and series of barrelling runs led by captain Hamish and a seemingly never ending army of runners. Offloading at will and slipping through Leos very scrambled defence, the hosts crossed.
Due to some last minute changes, Leos were fielding a new half back pairing. Tom Gedye this time joining up with Will Ofoushene who made his first appearance at 10, overwhelmed by the extra space the position afforded him, Big Willy O caused a few headaches for the Keighley line as he jinked and swerved through on a number of occasions, darting for the whitewash before a deft offload saw Jack Walsh score his first of the season... Something tells me we’ll still see a naked Walsh at the end of season dinner...
Again spurred by conceding the green wave crashed onto Leos territory. Two quick fire tries saw a napping Leos punished. Perhaps a bit too accustomed to some of the more recent victories, the foot did come off the pedal. Older heads called for composure and phases, with Carl making yards deep into the Keighley half, the pack were able to steal a bit of a march with some repeat carries, a metre or so at a time, slowly sucking in defenders.
New lad Paddy Brumskill turned on the after burners and smoked his opposite number to score a try built on consistent play, many of the forwards were still tangled in a ruck by the time Paddy was jogging back. The young wing was very unfortunate to have a second try ruled out towards the end of the game.
A free kick at a scrum saw Leos cough up valuable ball which resulted in a champagne passage of play from the hosts who ended the half in effervescent style.
The second half started on a fairly even keel but Keighley hammered a few quick tries in early doors to make it quite the uphill battle for Leos. With Walsh missing through a head injury, makeshift subs had to be made and the bench was emptied, this was not true of the home side who had plenty of fresh legs to enter the fray and caused some trouble.
Returning from Manchester for a special appearance, Connor Spencer was a welcome addition in the back line, trademark carries saw him eat up yards but resolute defence saw many of these breaks nullified.
Leos bagged a consolation score in the second half through Kenny Parsons grafting to reach the line. A fine finish to a rolling series of forward carries that started just inside the Keighley half.
Chastened on the road, the game was a valuable learning experience for the side who were blown away by a few hard lines in the second half. A big thank you to hosts Keighley for the post game pie and hospitality, with both clubs deserving some credit for making the game happen on another weekend of cancellations.
Ben Jones took man of the match honours for his all round performance. Never afraid to do the dirty work, nor put in a crucial hit on an opposite man twice his size, he was all over the pitch for 80 minutes and never seemed to tire!
Final score never made it my way but I have it as 8-5 on tries to the home side.