Photography: Chris Kerr
By Elizabeth Tyler
Both teams came onto the pitch with a strong mentality to win, Leeds Beckett coming into this match unbeaten and hoping to gain an away win over Loughborough to maintain their winning ways. The game started with good attacking play from both sides, Loughborough being the first to benefit from a kick able penalty; Tom James lined up just yards into Leeds Beckett’s half and split the uprights with an impressive nudge, taking the score to 3-0 and getting the home side of the mark.
Some strong attacking play put the hosts on the front foot again and it wasn’t long before James was lining up again. His ever-reliable boot did not fail and Loughborough’s score rose again, moving to 6-0.
Leeds Beckett, not content to let the home side keep them at a zero points total, pushed forward gaining territory and eventually getting close to Loughborough’s try line. The home side’s defence held for a time until Harry Betts was penalised for being offside and was sent to the sin bin. With the home side down to 14 men, Leeds Beckett’s attack strengthened and it was not long before they pushed over the whitewash to get their score off the mark. Though their conversion was missed, their fly half having or attempt a drop goal rather than kick from the tee because of a visible injury, the scores were more level, now 6-5.
After a sloppy kick to the corner from Leeds Beckett that was far too long, Loughborough pushed forwards from their 22 drop out, gaining a penalty at a scrum and letting James go for goal again. The uprights were once again split and the hosts stretched their lead to a more comfortable 4 points, the score now 9-5.
Leeds Beckett’s attack, however, did not let up and after an impressive run from their full back, who passed the Loughborough defence with ease, they crossed the whitewash for a second time. Again, the conversion was missed, this time a centre trying his hand at playing fly half, but the visitors moved into the lead for the first time in the match, the score now 9-10.
The home side were not content with trailing their guests for long, gaining another kick able penalty a few minutes later. James’ kick was, again, on target and the hosts regained the lead, the score now 12-10.
The away side attempted to push forwards again, getting extremely close to Loughborough’s line. The hosts defence held strong though and as Leeds Beckett were pinged on the stroke of half time, the teams left the pitch with the score remaining 12-10.
The home side took to the pitch after the break with a mind-set to maintain their lead and it was not long before Yiannis Loizis crossed Leeds Beckett’s line. James held onto his 100% kicking record sending the conversion over to take the score to 19-10.
With the home side on the front foot, the attack continued. Prop George Davis gave the home crowd something to cheer about after he broke through Leeds Beckett’s defence and made a huge run for the line, cleverly offloading to Harry Betts just in front of the line. The lock crossed the whitewash under the posts, giving James an easy kick that he didn’t miss. With the score now 26-10 the home side were firmly in the lead and looking to keep it that way.
Leeds Beckett attempted to step up their game, creating a twenty-minute passage of where neither team could put any more points on the board. The toing and froing was final brought to an end when the away side had a player sent to the sin bin. Loughborough could finally creating some strong attacking play but it would be an impressive interception from Jack Wardle that saw Loughborough’s next score. The centre saw the gap in the visitor’s line caused by their yellow card and ran onto the ball before racing to the line to score. James was, again, on target with the conversion, the score moving to 33-10.
Just minutes later Loizis attempted to go for his second after intercepting a long-range pass from the visitors but the ref pulled the game back stating that the winger was in touch as he darted round his Leeds Beckett opponent. The home crowd did not have to wait long to be cheering again, however, as Wardle plucked another Leeds Beckett pass out of the air to take his second intercept try in 5 minutes on the stroke of full time. The conversion was reliable as ever and the game ended with a resounding win for the home side, the score finishing at 40-10.