27th January 2008
Young Rhinos Down Knights
The weather conditions for the game were almost perfect for the match and harking back to the days of winter rugby, which is now just a distant memory. A slight breeze, dry and firm conditions underfoot and not too chilly.
Leeds kicked off playing slightly in to the wind and were rewarded on their first defensive set, when a kick through by York’s new playmaker Paul March, was charged down by Danny Allen. He managed to regather the ball as the York defense was flat footed by the change of direction and dashed 35 yards for the opening score. Simon Brown added the straightforward conversion to make it 6-0 to Leeds.
Leeds certainly seemed to start the contest the more determined of the two sides, however York began to find their feet and got their first score after around 9 minutes, when centre Steve Lewis went over from around 10 yards after forcing a break in the Leeds line. Paul March missed the resulting conversion to make it 6-4.
York had, by now, fully entered the contest and in the 14th minute they took a penalty against Leeds for not standing square quicker than the Leeds defense expected and this opened a gap for York winger Lee Maplas to score in the corner. Again, March missed with the conversion and the score was now 8 – 6 in favour of the home side.
The Knights were growing in confidence now, marshaled by the March brothers and were putting increasing pressure on the Leeds defensive line. On several occasions they came close to scoring, causing Leeds to put the ball dead over their own line and forcing a drop out from the visitors.
The pressure finally told in the 14th minute, when David March dived over from close range to further extend the York lead to 12 – 6. The other March, Paul missed with the conversation again and goal kicking turned out to be a problem for the home side for the whole of the game.
With a quarter of the game already over, coach Poching interjected some of the bench players on to the field for the first set of interchanges. Another substitution was forced on him, when Simon Worrall was injured in a tackle and ended up being lead from the field, with what looked to be a bang in the face. Certainly the injury was serious enough to withdraw the son of the former Leeds forward from the contest for good.
The injury to Worrall again seemed to galvanize the Leeds players and in the 25th minute, perhaps the one of the strangest tries you’ll see for a long time was scored by the impressive Jodie Broughton. A cross-field kick landed just inside the field of play, close to the corner. Broughton kept the ball in play, rounded his marker without the ball by crossing over the touch line and crossed the line about five yards in from the corner flag to register Leeds’ second try of the game. The ever consistent Brown slotted over a fairly difficult conversion to square the scores at 12 – All.
With around four minutes of the first half remaining, York again scored to take the lead again with a try from David Leeke. He forced his way past the Leeds tacklers and forced his way in to the corner. March again missed the conversion to make it 16 – 12 to the home side, a lead they would take into the half time interval.
With the second half starting, Leeds were soon level with York again after a mere three minutes and a try from another impressive player on the day, centre Kallum Watkins. Another kick to the corner was exploited by the Leeds attack and an excellent gather by winger James Archibald. His quick thinking reverse passed the ball inside to the gleeful Watkins with York’s sliding defense over compensating, there was a gap for Watkins to dash the short distance over the try line. Simon Brown added yet another successful conversation to make the score 18-16 in favour of Leeds Rhinos and edge them slightly in front.
After 5 minutes of the second stanza, the game swung yet again for the home team. Leeds fumbled the ball around 30 yards from their own line and it was recovered by York hooker David March. He ran 20 yards to slip the ball inside to the supporting Paul March and he then quickly moved the ball on to winger David Leeke to score his second try of the game. Yet another conversion was missed by the home team and out of the 5 tries they had scored at this point, not one had been successfully converted but it was enough to give them a 20-18 lead.
With the scores tight again, the game was back to being full contested by both sides and it was also a chance for the coaches of both sides to fully rotate their teams and make full use of their extensive substitute benches. Both sides, but especially Leeds were also pressing for a further score and on a couple of occasions came close, either with dabs through in the try area or by being held up over the line.
The deadlock breaking score came as an indirect result of a penalty around the 15th minute of the second period. Danny Allen made a lateral run across the attacking line around 15 yards out, only to connect with an angled pass to Kallum Watkins, who again wrong-footed the York defense to score by the posts. Simon Brown added a further goal to make it 24-20 in favour of the Rhinos.
With Leeds making few errors generally and the team looking fairly fresh when compared to a York side that was visibly tiring, it is worth mentioning the efforts of the ‘senior professional’ on duty, Jamie Thackray. In the past, there have been several players in a similar position that treated this fixture as somewhat as a day out and an excuse to hide. Certainly this is not something that could be leveled at Jamie on that performance and he made a good contribution, leading the pack from the front and playing his full part in the overall performance during his two main stints on the field. Indeed, the fans were even treated to an attempt to re-create his now famous try in Perpignan, by kicking through … On this occasion, just failing to re-gather the ball in time to score.
With the scores still tight, the packs facing up to each other and some niggle (not to mention some big hits) going in, whilst not a dirty contest by any stretch of the imagination, the game did manage to boil over into a frank exchange of views just entering the final quarter.
Leeds seemed to take advantage of the disagreements and in the 66th minute, the impressive Broughton went over for another try by slipping through the York tackles to make it 28-20 to the Rhinos. Surprisingly, Simon Brown missed his only conversion of the day.
Trouble flared again and this saw the sin-binning of York stand-off (and former Leeds junior) Scott Rhodes for dissent. Given the time in the match, that effectively ended his participation in the contest and left Leeds with the man advantage. Shortly after Rhodes sin binning, Leeds lost winger Ben Jones-Bishop to what appeared to be a serious leg injury and resulted in him being carried from the field.
The final action came in the dying moments, when York substitute Luke Watling slipped the Leeds defense to score about 12 yards in and close the score up to 24 – 28. After trying several kickers, Lee Mapals finally managed to slot a conversion over and make the score 28-26 in favour of the Rhinos.
The last few moments were tight for Leeds, as the home side attempted to get a winning score, but they managed to weather the storm and gain what must be a confidence boosting victory for Willie Poching’s charges. No one on the Leeds side had a really bad game and the two stand out players were the centres Broughton and Watkins, who along with their wingers, displayed some sublime handling and excellent finishing during the game. York, with the loss of one of the March brothers during the game through a wrist injury and with a kicking problem will hope that this will be a bad day at the office, as they face their first proper fixture next weekend in the Northern Rail Cup.
Leeds Rhinos: Sheldrake; Jones-Bishop, Broughton (2T), Watkins (2T), Archibald; Allan (T), S Brown (4G); Jones, McShane, Thackray, L Brown, Howey, Worral
Interchange: Fox, Clarkson, Hardbottle, Elkington, Lawton, Ely
York City Knights: Grimshaw; Mapals (T,G), Esders, Lewis (T), Leeke (T); Rhodes, P March; Applegarth, D March (T), HOdgson, Divorty, Harrison, Gargan
Interchange: Watling (T), Blaney, Ekis, Kelly, Frris, Steerman, Endersby, Woodcock
Referee: Peter Brooke
The SouthStander.com Team would like to express their thanks to the Admiral for contributing this match report