The Leeds Uni 1s kept their promotion hopes on track with a 42-18 win over local rivals Beckett on a bitter afternoon at Weetwood. Despite their opponents battling at the opposite end of the table, the home side knew Beckett would be well up for the fixture, yet it was Uni who came flying out of the blocks to score the game’s first try after just 5 minutes. Sam King evaded 2 tackles to go over, before James Woodburn-Hall added the extras to make it 6-0.
It was evident that the home side were oozing confidence after recording 6 wins out of 7 prior to kick off, and they were unlucky not to extend their lead straight from the restart. Beckett dropped the ball from a kick following the 5th tackle and despite regaining possession, Uni just couldn’t quite get over the line and an unfortunate knock-on meant the chance went begging.
Uni didn’t have to wait too long to extend their advantage however, as some good work from the home forwards released Woodburn-Hall to score his first try of the day before adding to conversion to make it 12-0 with just over 10 minutes gone.
The home side were starting to look like they were in a different class to their opposition and 2 further tries were added to make the score 22-0 before the midway point of the first half. Pat O’Brien was at the centre of both attacks and he was duly rewarded with his first points of the match.
Uni were in full control of the game and the talent of Woodburn-Hall was clearly evident as he and Harry Tabb pulled the strings for the home side. Beckett weren’t ready to lie down yet though, and their vocal following inspired them to remind the home side that there were 2 teams in this contest. A sloppy knock-on in a dangerous position offered the away side a great opportunity to get back into the game, but Uni defended well to avert the danger and boldly responded by going straight back up the pitch to score their 5th try of the day.
Woodburn-Hall was striking fear into the opposition every time he had possession, and a great offload from Dom O’Conner set him up for a great breakaway try. Matt Wright bagged himself 2 points with the conversion, which extended the home side’s emphatic lead before half time.
Uni could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas in the 2nd half, but Beckett emerged from the bench in a determined mood and they got their first try of the game following a period of scrappy play between the two sides. Nevertheless, the home side remained in the ascendancy and were unlucky not to regain their advantage on 2 occasions; Beckett managed to hold the ball up following good Uni pressure, before Tabb escaped the away defence but didn’t quite have the legs to make it over the line.
Beckett responded strongly and they proved to be the more clinical side in the second half as 2 quick tries brought them back into the game. With further pressure from the away side, it looked like Uni might rue their missed chances, but the re-introduction of Woodburn-Hall with 10 minutes to go helped put any Beckett hopes of a late comeback to bed and Dan Bent grabbed a late try. Tabb added the extras, which gave Uni a 42-18 win.
Uni stay top of the Northern 1A division, and on this evidence it is hard to imagine that they won’t win promotion this season. Despite an inferior points difference, Manchester Met are hot on Leeds’ train with the same amount of points so there is still all to play for with 2 games remaining. Uni face a strong Liverpool John Moores side next week and the team knows that a victory will edge them ever closer to the Premier North League.
Image courtesy of Jack Roberts