Sport | Uni bested by champions Durham
Approaching Weetwood South on Wednesday lunchtime, there was an overwhelming temptation to write this report from the comfort of my car, despite the torrent of rain on my windscreen obscuring my view.
Leeds’ 1sts might have felt the same had they known what was coming as they were subjected to, if not a torrent, then a trickle of tries from Durham 1sts, who took a 17-0 victory back to the Wear.
Last year’s champions did not quite dominate to the extent that the scoreline would suggest though.
In an open first half, Leeds had the better of the opening encounters, without ever really threatening to score points.
The first threat fell to Durham. Winning a lineout yards from the try line, brave defending won Leeds a scrum.
Swifly pushed back by Durham, Leeds’ eventual clearance connected with an opposition player, forcing last-ditch defending between the posts.
The pattern was set for a match full of emphatic Leeds defending, but a lack of swift attacking play to relieve the pressure.
Eventually the pressure paid off for Durham, as their size advantage forced a maul forward before slick passing led to the try mid way through the first half.
The rest of the half was decidedly end-to-end, but Leeds’ influence on the game began to diminish as half time approached.
On the stroke of the interval, a line out led to another strong maul from Durham, forcing Leeds over their own try line, making the score 10-0 to the away side.
Durham were keen to exploit this strength throughout the second half, opting for line outs at any opportunity, allowing them to advance in territory through force and power.
Leeds responded to this however, with additional bodies deterring attacks deep in their own half time and time again.
Quelling the dominant spell by Durham, much of the second half was played in the middle third, but as Leeds began to tire, one more attack from Durham was allowed to squeeze through to the tryline, as another maul paid dividends.
The successful conversion made it 17-0 to the away side.
Leeds had chances of their own as the match drew to a close, but lacked the clinical edge to find the gaps in a solid Durham defensive line.
The loss leaves Leeds loitering in mid table, having started the season with an away win to Northumbria last week.
Against an opposition which dominated so thoroughly last season, Leeds’ performance was impressive in parts, with Durham’s excellence being the decisive factor in their victory.
Image courtesy of Jamie Kirby