Tykes triumph in toughest test
National League North leaders Leeds Tykes overcame their toughest assignment yet, edging out Yorkshire rivals Wharfedale 20 – 8, maintaining their unbeaten record. Coach Pete Seabourne praised his side’s determination to limit “strong opposition” to a single-digit total.
The game started fast enough. Within two minutes Kieran Davis darted from his own 10m line to mid-way within the opposition’s half before being pulled down. Charlie Venables missed the opportunity to open the scoring when a penalty was awarded.
Leeds enjoyed much possession and went through the phases but were continuously being pushed back by Wharfedale. Venables looked lively and he was brought down close to the line.
Will Hardwick took a tap-and-go when a penalty was awarded for Wharfedale holding on. Hybrid number 8 Junior Nu’u opened the scoring on 12 minutes after the Leeds pack stamped its authority on proceedings. Kieran Davies inherited kicking duties to add the extras.
Davies showed his kicking prowess with a sublime 50-22 that covered pretty much three-quarters of the pitch. The maverick full-back, who has been missing for most of the campaign through injury, then went over for a try of his own by slicing through the North Yorkshire side’s defence before missing the conversion attempt.
The home side opted to scrum at every opportunity due to its dominance against the league’s third-placed team. Harry Jukes, who was lively throughout the match when shown the ball, came close to scoring but the final tackle popped up the ball to Wharfedale who put it into touch.
To add to the visitors’ woes, George Hedgley was sin-binned, giving his side a mountain to climb.
Venables got over for the try of the match on thirty-four minutes to put the hosts in cruise control at halftime.
An uneventful second half followed with neither side grabbing the ascendancy.
Wharfedale’s Sam Gaudie scored his team’s first points of the match from a penalty after Leeds were penalised for a player not bending enough during a tackle.
Leeds enjoyed a series of possession but couldn’t convert them into points until Davies scored a penalty after Wharfdale were penalised for going in at the side.
Wharfedale fans were out in force. They were vocal throughout the match. However, one of the largest cheers of the evening was from the Tykes’ supporters when Will Dennis, playing in his first match since January, tackled a Wharfedale player and drove him back a good 5 metres.
Neither side were able to get the ascendancy as possession went from team to team and territory stayed between the 22m lines.
There was a long break in play due to some feisty fisty-cuffs. The referee and assistant had a long conversation, and both the captains were spoken to. Adam Brown was shown the yellow card. The niggling continue and Leeds found themselves having a penalty overturned as a result.
The Tykes’ defence was solid but once the ball was shipped wide, being a man down, Thomas Darwin scored an unconverted try in the corner.
The league leaders went all out to try to get their fourth try and spent the last five minutes camped in and around Wharfedale’s’ 5m line. Leeds had several advantages and chose to either tap-and-go or scrum. The end of the match came when the away side stopped a big Tyke’s drive and the referee called time.
After the match, Director of Rugby, said: “I’m really pleased with that result. Defensively we were really good for long phases. Our attacking play in the first half was excellent.
“Still a bit to work on but onwards and upwards to Lymm next week.”
Many thanks to Northern Energy for sponsoring the match.
Final score 20-8
Report by Ben Cropper