York Men’s 1sts 23-17 Leeds Men’s 2nds
York’s Rugby Union team is back on track for promotion from the BUSA Northern Conference 2B after a 23-17 victory over Leeds 2nds. Two Nick Brown tries in the first half and another from Danny Stacey in the second gave York the win in a close game.
The home side went seven points ahead within ten minutes after a quickly taken penalty saw the ball move through several pairs of hands to send Brown over the line for his first try, which was followed by a confident conversion from Tom Benbow. Infringements littered the opening exchanges as Leeds struggled to cope with the speed of York’s ball movement. However, the visitors began to impose themselves on the game with a penalty in the twenty third minute. The scorer, fly-half Oaks, seemed to grow in confidence as the half progressed and Leeds began to show the strengths that had them top of the table at the start of the day. Leeds’ improvement culminated in a strong solo try from fullback Hillcup. Starting on York’s ten metre line, he shrugged off a Nick Mason tackle and weaved his way through the back line to score under the posts.
With Leeds allowing York’s fly-half Benbow generous space, his perfectly timed offload eight minutes later allowed Brown through for another score. York’s backs benefited from a flowing cohesion and looked increasingly dangerous with ball in hand.
Just before half time Leeds faced a further set back when prop Elliot Johnston was sin-binned. The break saw the introduction of Warwick Burrows for the injured Nick Mason on the York side. Burrows performed well, taking over kicking duties and sending two penalties over in the second period either side of a Stacey try.
In a flowing move, the ball was sent wide to Stoddart on the right wing before York effortlessly switched the ball to the other side of the field – leaving huge gaps in Leeds’ back line and space for Stacey run the ball home. York’s determination to play an expansive style of attractive rugby was proving too much for the Leeds defence to handle.
With the score at twenty three to ten, York looked in full control. It was at this point that Leeds sprang into life. York, sitting back on a healthy lead, allowed their opponents too much time and were punished by a clever line-break and offload by Leeds number eight Boyle that gave substitute Henkam an easy try. The try duly converted, Leeds were now in the ascendancy. York, having battled all game to contain the Leeds danger-men, started to look hesitant and disorganised. The last 10 minutes saw some anxious faces in the crowd as York faced a wave of attacks, but the home team hung on to win the match.
Speaking after the game, York captain Paul Goodall told Nouse that “attitude made the difference”. Beating a highly fancied Leeds side was no easy task, and right from the first whistle, York’s men looked sharp in both attack and defence. Goodall continued to praise a lineout that showed a marked improvement on the uncertain display in last weeks’ loss to Newcastle.
Of the two teams Leeds did not look like the league leaders, such was York’s potency with ball in hand. Their passing was fluent, accurate and swift and the backs, exemplified by Brown, ran excellent lines. York showed a level of awareness and intuitive play within the team that bodes well for the future; at times only lacking the sort of ruthlessness that will surely develop as the season progresses.
Leeds’ exciting 10, Oaks, suffered from some poor decision making in the first half and his team were plagued by individual errors throughout, but the credit must go to York’s relentless pressure and fluent attacking style in forcing the mistakes.