Leos 2s come away Victorious
By Tom Tweddle
Team performance see Leos suppress the conditions & opposition
Leos 2nd XV made the trip north to take on Ilkley 3s with a strong squad due to good availability throughout the club and thanks to the return of Lofty from paternity and saving the world duties and Norton from the colorful bars of the slopes. With a short but intense warm up under their belts Captain Tweddle chose to play with the elements to begin with aiming to build a score that would be defendable with the stiff breeze and short pitch in the 2nd half.
Leos took the kick off and set the tone with 2 minutes of retained possession through a mixture of hard forward carries and breaks in the midfield until the Ilkley's defence ran out of patience and they over chased to the carrier to leave a gap just big enough for Little to squeeze the chest through and dot down for the first 5 pointer of the day, with the extras added.
Leos continued to build through the phases with Tom Platt and Sam Pearson in the row carrying hard and once on the front foot the midfield axis of Toms was making breaks. Having built field position through retaining posession and Ilkley stretched Tom Bartlett cut a line to go over for his try of the day on his 2nd XV debut.
Leos were dominating possession and with Chris Little probing on the wind with his box kicks were enjoying the territorial advantage as well. When Ilkley turned Leos over with some strong defence on their 22 they looked to clear their lines with a box kick of their own. However they had failed to account for the reach of Harry Elliot who charged the kick down and then out sprinted the retreating Ilkley scramble to regather and crash over. One for the front row union to bask in and I'm sure by the end of the night the charge down happened on the half way line and by the end of season Harry will have traveled the length of the pitch. Leos were up 19-0 in about the same amount of time, but Ilkley weren't taking it quietly and were defending resolutely and stood firm on their goal line repelling several close range carries before Leos patience snapped and Alfie Ruff was penalised for a double movement.
The half continued to be dominated by Leos and the next score came about via a Penalty Try after Harry had carried hard to the try line again only to be denied placement by several Ilkley players arriving from offside positions. Leos racked up tries 6 and 7 before the half time hooter with the first coming from a penalty to the corner and following the collapse of the resulting maul Sam Pearson went low and hard to find his way over the try line.
Chris Little then took his tally to 2 for the day following more hard carries from the forwards to allow for a quick pick, snipe and dive over in the corner to put Leos in a commanding 38-0 lead in the same number of minutes. However there was time for a black mark on the first halves performance with Leos giving up possession and then switching off from the resulting penalty allowing Ilkley's 9 to tap and dart through some non-reactive defence and go over in the corner.
So a slight dampener on a quality half across the paddock by Leos meant the half time water was very much a chat about doing the same into the wind as had been the case in the first half, while the front row union discussed how aroused they had got over Harry's try.
Ilkley bought on a few experienced heads and also upped the physicality after the break in some instances a little too much with Dr Sam receiving a quality right hook which wouldn't have looked out of place on one of Eddie Hearn's undercards which the Ref duly dranded a yellow card for. With the wind still stiffly blowing down the pitch Ilkley were enjoying a lions share of the territory and possesion but Leos held resolute in defence and the work on the ground by Lipscomb and Clark meant there was plenty of turnover ball for Leos to run there way back out of trouble with kicking proving difficult in the conditions. Ilkley did get their 2nd try of the day after a kick over the top looked to be running dead only to sit up back over the head of Robbie to the delight of the onrushing chasers.
Leos hit back by securing some possession and through a huge carry by Tom Platt got on the front foot with momentum continued by short carries by the pack before Tweddle pulled the ball back on a switch for Tom Bartlett to secure his 2nd of the day.
The standard of the game deteriorated in the last quarter with the rain joining the wind into the faces of the Leos in defence and Ilkley recorded their 3rd of the day following another kick through which Tom Ress went all Yoan Huget on allowing the following up Ilkely player to scope up and slide over the Leos tryline.
Leos remained strong in defence to keep the hosts from registering a bonus point try and there was time for the Ref's patience towards his pet hate the F-Word to snap and a 2nd yellow card was brandished for over use to one of the Ilkley players.
One of the 2nd XVs most complete performances of the season following several strong 40 minutes so far in 2019 this was a real squad performance with all 19 contributing to the victory and the side keen to stay patient within the patterns until the opportunities arose.
Man of the Match could have gone to many but deserving for his try and relentless carrying display all afternoon Harry Elliot took the spoils.
The 2s take on Harrogate Pirates at Crag Lane next week as they loom to climb the Merit Table and if they can keep the side together then there is no reason why not.