On a bitterly cold December day with a strong wind down the pitch in remarkably good condition 'Ensians knew they were in for a tough game against the League leaders who had only lost one game so far this season.
The Home team took advantage of the wind in the first half and this was rewarded with a fine penalty goal from near half way by Will Cooper after only 3 minutes .Most of the early play was in the Visitors' 22 ,and after coming just short of the line the Home team used their speedy backs for Will Cooper to chip through the Leeds defence. Rob Lofthouse following up tackled the defender near the line. The forwards gained the ball and Joe Ridgway scampered over after 13 minutes to score a try converted by Will Cooper.
Four minutes later Corinthians used their backs from half way for their quick winger to outpace the home defence for an unconverted try making the score 10 points to 5.
The Leeds team made another telling break after 23 minutes the home team being saved by a last ditch tackle by Jacob Wragg inches short of the line.'Ensians were awarded a penalty and Olly Eaves using the wind made an amazing 65 metres to take play to the Leeds 22.
The rest of the half saw play in the Visitors' 22. Will Cooper scored another penalty goal and with 5 minutes of the half to go the. Leeds wilted as a result of the continuous Home pressure and from a Corinthians scrum in their 22 a firm Home tackle, followed by a kick through and a fumble by the defence enabled 'Ensians to score a try by, guess who? Yes Will Cooper who also added the extras.
On the cusp of half time ,good lineout ball from Ali Campbell enabled the home backs to bamboozle the Leeds defence with a neat loop by Olly Eaves who passed to Connor Bateman to sprint over unopposed for an unconverted try .The whistle went with a half time score of 25 points to 5 in the Home side's favour.
Corinthians have had an impressive season and again the question was asked. Is it enough? The second half started with Leeds taking play immediately into the Home 22. 'Ensians were doing well in the scrums and held the heavy Leeds pack at a 5 metre scrum eager for a push over try. On two occasions when awarded kickable penalties the Visitors inexplicably elected to kick for position and in each case the superb Home defence managed to scramble the ball away. However the pressure told and after 12 minutes the Visitors opened the ball out to their winger to score a good but unconverted try.
Two minutes later a high kick from Leeds was well caught by Connor Bateman who beat 4 or 5 of the opposition players, passing to Olly Eaves who won a penalty. From the ensuing lineout taken by Kieran Walker play moved into the Visitors '22 followed by numerous phases from the plundering Home forwards to take up valuable time. When Corinthians finally recovered the ball by using the wind play inevitably moved into the Home 22.
For 15 minutes the Home defence and particularly the forwards worked like demons keeping the Leeds attack at bay and grinding play away from the line It was a supreme effort by everyone with Captain Sam Featherstone leading the way and all the other forwards following his lead. They held out until the 33rd minute when after a continuous attack on the line Corinthians scored an unconverted try making the score 25 to 15. On running back the Visitors' Captain said to his players "2 more tries lads" and when they came back immediately using the wind one mistake could have been fatal.
This was not to be and the supreme defining move belonged to 'Ensians.From a scrum just outside the Home 22 in a perfect move by the backs Rob Lofthouse quickly moved the ball to stand off Olly Eaves, who slipped it to Luke Cowdell who after crashing through four despairing tackles gave a high pass over the defence to Will Cooper. He took his man and gave an inch perfect pass to Connor Bateman who sprinted down the wing to outpace 3 defenders to score a brilliant try wide out. To cap it all he then converted his own try against the strong wind from the touchline.
Corinthians came back and the home defence held firm with fine tackling with Michael Groves prominent and Dan Stevens quick to spot the Visitors' short lineouts.
This was a great team performance.It is significant that 22 of the 'Ensians points were scored in the last 10 minutes of each half confirming their high level of fitness. Given space every player deserved a write-up. It augers well for the challenges ahead.