Varsity may have been a week earlier, but the rivalry was still as strong on Wednesday, when LURUFC’s 6th team fought out a tough fixture against Leeds Met’s 4th side at Weetwood.
In what turned out to be a surprisingly close encounter, it was the home side that drew first blood just four minutes in. Uni took full advantage of a scrum at the 22 metre line, as a fine grubber kick was met by Jackson Hughes at the corner to give the Gryphons a 5-0 lead.
Met pegged Uni back immediately though with a fine forwards’ try by Marsden who drove the ball over the line. Ritchie added the extra two points, and Met took the lead.
The rest of the first half was a scrappy affair, as both sides produced a series of errors and neither could dominate the match. The Gryphons frequently found good positions, but couldn’t find a way through the organised Met defence.
Uni’s errors eventually proved costly, as they gave away a penalty in front of the posts which was easy for Ritchie to convert to give Met a 10-5 lead.
The boys in green were still in touching distance, but the visitors began to pull away just before half time. Harry Garner’s kick to touch under pressure from both the Met and the wind could only travel 15 metres, and from the resulting line out a powerful maul charged the ball over the try line.
Prop Coleman was credited for the try, but it simply highlighted the size and power advantages that Met’s pack had over Uni’s 6ths. Richie added the extras and Met led 17-5 at half time.
The Gryphons came back on the pitch for the second half determined to fight back, and they piled on the pressure as they looked for a breakthrough. Their efforts were finally rewarded in the 57th minute, when Harrison Turner used the advantage of a penalty to catch Met out. Uni were back in with a shout and only a seven point deficit.
However, Met quickly responded. The away side won a scrum 10 metres away from the try line, and their powerful pack, which had bullied Uni’s all afternoon, forced the ball over the line before loose forward Chapman pounced for the try.
With Uni trailing by 14 points following the Met conversion, the momentum was firmly in the away side’s favour. Met scored again soon after, when Ritchie’s huge kick from their own half found Uni’s 10 metre line. Marsden bundled the ball over the line from the resulting line out, and the game looked over at 29-10 to Leeds Met.
There was still time for the Gryphons to be presented with a life line though, when Uni’s stand out player Jackson Hughes intercepted a poor Met pass to score under the sticks. Garner couldn’t miss, and Uni cut their deficit to 12 points.
It was ultimately too late though. Met’s pack had proven too powerful for the Uni 6s, who despite a valiant effort right to the end, lost 17-29.
Image courtesy of Alice Greenfield