By community reporter
West Leeds RUFC weathered a second-half fight back to remain the only unbeaten team in Yorkshire One
It was an enthralling match where both teams had extended periods of ascendency, with the final score favouring the home team 37 to 22.
Following last week’s disjointed performance against Bees, West Leeds were keen to deliver a more complete performance at Blue Hill Lane, with the pre-match chat focusing on starting strong.
Pythons had clearly not read the script and following a line out just inside the West Leeds’ half, scored the first try of the day, with the Harrogate winger scoring in the corner following a broken tackle in the midfield. 0-5.
Conceding the early try clearly shocked the home side, who started shifting through the gears and began to control possession. Following a period of extended possession West Leeds were able to draw a penalty, which was kicked into the corner by Breakwell.
From the ensuing line out, which went well all day, West Leeds were able to score in the corner following two well worked phases. Booth came of his blind side wing to set up a ruck under the sticks, with the ball being recycled quickly, it was a simple case of shifting it along the back line, with Hoey putting away O’Neill in the corner to level the scores. 5-5.
West Leeds continued to control the first half, with the half back pairing of Bedford and Breakwell kicking well, ensuring the majority of the rugby was played in the Pythons half.
The home side’s next try came from a poor clearance kick from Pythons, which allowed the West Leeds to shift the ball across the pitch with some great inter linking play eventually leading to Booth being tackled just short of the try line. The West Leeds forward pack then started going through the phases applying pressure until the ball was shipped out wide, with Chitiyo picking up a loose ball to weave his way over the try line. Breakwell slotted the ensuing conversion. 12-5.
Chitiyo secured his brace shortly after, collecting first phase ball from a midfield scrum in the West Leeds half, the outside centre scored a brilliant solo effort beating multiple defenders in a race to the corner. 19-5.
A period of West Leeds indiscipline saw the home side defending a line out five meters out, despite an excellent maul defence, Pythons were able to secure the ball and were able to go through the phases, eventually scoring under the posts after a missed tackle around the fringes. 19-10.
West Leeds were able to go through the phases after the ensuing kick-off, with big carries from across the forward pack driving the home team forward. Pythons conceded a penalty following a high tackle, which Breakwell dutifully converted bringing the score to 22-10.
West Leeds secured the bonus point just before half time, with a brilliant induvial effort from Breakwell. The fly half stripped the Pythons scrum half on the edge of the West Leeds 22 and ran untouched to score under the sticks. Converting his own try to bring the score to 29-10 at half time.
The first twenty minutes of the second half belonged to Pythons, they were able to shift the ball well across the pitch, building the phases before their Number 8, who carried well all game, was able to power over from short range. 29-17.
West Leeds were reduced to 14 men shortly after the try giving Pythons the ascendency, who manipulated uncharacteristically poor West Leeds defence, to go through the phases and build field territory.
Following an off the ball incident both West Leeds and Pythons lost a player to an early shower. From the ensuing penalty Pythons kicked to the corner and looked certain to score from a driving maul, but clever defence allowed the West Leeds pack to get under the ball and secure a goal line drop out.
However, the pressure told with the Pythons quickly returning to the West Leeds try line to score their fourth try of the day. With the number 8 powering over for another short range try. 29-22.
The game was now finely posed going into the final quarter with West Leeds looking like they may fall to their first defeat of the season to a physical Harrogate side.
However, Wests had different ideas, deciding collectively that they weren’t going to be out dogged by the league new comers. A concerted rear-guard effort allowed West Leeds to survive the remaining period of the yellow card, almost scoring in the corner following a fluid phase of play.
Back up to 14 men, West Leeds were able to apply pressure on the ensuing line out, causing the Pythons’ half back to clear poorly, gifting West Leeds an attacking line out just inside the Pythons’ 22.
A well-executed line out allowed Jones to secure the ball at the back of the maul, however a concerted push from the Pythons’ pack meant the maul span on the spot rather than move towards the try line. Scenting an opportunity Jones broke from the rear of the maul, beating three men from a standing start to dot down, what was ultimately the decisive score. 34-22.
Buoyed from the try, West Leeds were able to go through the phases from kick off, slick hands allowed the back line to make 50 meters, with Chitiyo eventually being brought down just outside the Pythons’ 22.
In the closing phases West Leeds continued to play the smarter rugby, managing territory and never giving the Pythons’ the chance to build phases or territory, while continuing to threaten to score from all over the park.
The last score of the game came from a midfield jackal securing a West Leeds penalty directly under the sticks, Breakwell kicked the ensuing penalty to move West Leeds beyond two scores. 37-22.
Despite 20 minutes of madness after half time, West Leeds game nous was the deciding difference with the Wortley team playing clever rugby. However, the team continue to look for the complete performance, with plenty to work on going into Hullensians, not least in the tackle area.
Man of the Match was Barney Carter, who carried well all game and was a constant nuisance at the break down.
West Leeds Team
1. David Sidebottom
2. Nick Jones
3. Steve Anderson
4. Lewis Bromley (C)
5. John Elkington
6. Adam Newton
7. Sam Shepherd
8. Barney Carter
9. Joe Bedford
10. Keir Breakwell (VC)
11. Conor O’Neill
12. Bryn Perrot
13. Eliah Chitiyo
14. Dan Booth
15. Rian Hoey
16. Linus Gallagher
17. Joe Greenwood
18. Ben McEwan