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Leeds Medics & Dentists 30 – Old Otliensians 15

Against a side which has topped the League table for most of the season, ‘Ensians knew they would have their work cut out to pull off a victory away from home. In greasy conditions the home side threw wave after wave of attack at the visitors through their fast powerful backs, but centres Nathan Rogers and Lee O’Donnell provided a solid defence with able support from the back row of Tom Dyson, Rob Arbuckle and Sam Featherstone.

On 10 minutes the Medics converted a penalty and followed this with another on 23 minutes to give them a 6 – 0 lead. Having withstood the battering for the first 20 minutes, ‘Ensians began to put some good phases of play together through half backs Rob Lofthouse and Kristian Keinhorst with their pack providing excellent support. Good drives by Arbuckle, hooker Rob Lyon and prop Tony Myers took play up to the home line and lock Toby Barltrop forced his way over on 33 minutes. The conversion failed moving the score at 6 – 5 to the home side.

Just as it appeared the slender lead would last until the break, good interplay between the Leeds backs and forwards took play deep into ‘Ensians territory. Several attempts to blast through the visitors’ defence were fought off with strong tackling, but the pressure told and
a try came half way out which, with the conversion, gave the Medics a 13 – 5 lead at half time.

In the second half the visitors came out with all guns blazing and they drove the opposition into their own 22. Good interplay between centres Rogers and O’Donnell and full back Ali Campbell tested the home defence. ‘Ensians produced a good drive from a scrum near the home line and No.8 Rob Arbuckle picked up and powered his was over for Keinhorst to convert and narrow the margin to 13 – 12 on 45 minutes.

At this stage, ‘Ensians were playing some superb rugby with both forwards and backs moving the ball and offloading confidently. Replacements lock Alan Harker and prop Tom Twist added extra energy in the pack and the front row of Myers, Lyon and Twist were beginning to have an edge on their opponents. Medics kicked a penalty on 52 minutes and Keinhorst responded with one for the visitors on 58 minutes, the hosts maintaining their slender lead at 16 – 15.

Both sides were moving the ball well and posing threats, but the lively Leeds backs managed to penetrate the defence and set up a series of rucks near the ‘Ensians’ line to produce a converted try on 69 minutes, extending their lead to 23 – 15. Still very much in the game, ‘Ensians set about closing the gap through strong drives from Dyson, Harker and lock Steve Wade. When Medics turned the ball over, the referee produced a yellow card for a late tackle and consigned ‘Ensians to the difficult task of playing with fourteen men for the remainder of the game.

Down to fourteen men and with legs beginning to tire against relentless attacks, the visitors conceded another converted try on 76 minutes to stretch the home side’s lead to 30 – 15. This was an excellent game in which both sides produced some quality attacking rugby and, mid-way through the second period, it looked as though ‘Ensians might pull off a surprise win. In the end, the League-leaders proved too strong, but the final score flattered them and did not fully reflect the determined all-round performance from ‘Ensians.

The ‘Ensians 2nd XV Merit Table match against Heath was called off when Heath withdrew at 11.30 on Saturday morning.