Leeds Uni Rugby League had a sterling match against their Metropolitan rivals. They lost the match 44-20 but it was one of the closest games against Met all season. Playing at Headingly Stadium (hallowed ground) before the Rhinos vs Wigan match they drew the attention of many non-students, although due to the Leeds Met badge appearing on the Rhinos shirt much of the support went their way, but Uni were still inspired by playing at such a prestigious venue.
Uni had the kick off and quickly stole possession deep in the Met half. Met have won the BUCS championship the last nine years running and are frequently said to have the best rugby league program in the country so a good start against them was essential.
The underdogs wasted no time in supplying this with Billy Griffiths charging over the line for a try within the first five minutes. Considering the last match against Met was lost 24-0, and this was the best competition Met had had all season, a winning start was almost unheard of.
Not long after this the Uni side was once again charging deep into Met turf, wasting no time in setting themselves up as the dominant force on the pitch. After a good few phases a fumble of the ball made it seem like all the hard work was ruined but it was swiftly turned into a chaseable kick that was caught by Sam King to score a try. There was a smoothness to this try that rivalled any set piece.
However Met were not the pushover team they seemed to be; Uni were 10-0 up but this didn’t make them safe by any means. With the first serious amount of possession they had had all match Met stormed into the Uni half. Their momentum was insatiable and although Uni held them back in the five metre line for over five minutes they eventually forced their way over the line scoring their first try.
Met’s greatest strength was their counter play, in one instance Leeds had regained the ball through an intercept deep in their own half. One man is sprinting down the pitch, no try is available but getting close is really possible. The Met defence worked in twos, as one man runs in causing pressure the other is perfectly timed to steal the intercept when the Leeds man is forced to pass, the move was perfectly timed and, as it turned out, devastating for Leeds as it led to a second try for Met. With both of these tries converted they left the pitch for half time leading 12-10.
In truth Uni should have been grateful for the half time break, Met’s momentum was only growing and this was a chance to make some choices and get into a new rhythm to bring them down. However it did not seem like this was to be as Met came back with all the force and energy they had had in the end of the second half. Within minutes they had scored their first try and it was to be the first of many.
Uni never seemed to be playing weaker rugby for very long but Met was cruel in their exploitation of any weakness. In the dying minutes of the match Uni did manage two more tries, bringing them up to the same deficit of 24 points that they had in their last encounter, but they were sure this was an improvement and the crowd were certainly impressed by the match.
Image courtesy of Nick Gandy