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Battling Reds earn deserved draw
Skipton 15 West Leeds 15
After the misery of Moortown this performance was a welcome treat.
Whatever was said, viewed or written last week, had the desired effect.
This was the best display for quite some time, even better, they actually got a result.
The draw must have felt like a win as it was secured with a late score.
Playing into the wind, Skipton started well and dominated play and territory. It looked a familiar story.
One lapse of concentration and the West Leeds scrum-half spotted a blind-side gap and sprinted fully 60 yards for a poacher’s try, well converted to give the visitors the lead.
West Leeds had some talented individuals in key positions, their blindside flanker snaffled a lot of ball and was influential in turning the game their way.
Another potent weapon was their line-out driving maul, from one of which, they extended their lead to 12 points with a well-executed drive from ten yards out.
They were stretching the referee’s patience however and from one of their indiscretions skipper Darren Howson kicked a penalty to make it 12-3.
At that point the home supporters would have taken a nine-point half-time deficit, but Skipton infringed and the West Leeds scrum half kicked a penalty from 40 yards.
Losing 15-3, Skipton were grateful that West Leeds had turned down some kickable penalties in favour of line-outs.
Amidst all of this, Skipton had been playing some good rugby.
They realised that the inclement conditions suited some picking and driving and close-quarter back moves.
One of these paid off handsomely just before half-time when outside centre, Joe Porter timed his angled run to perfection.
He burst through a gap before off-loading to fellow centre, Jonny Moore who scored a much-needed try which was converted by Howson.
With the wind behind them, Skipton really fancied their chances of erasing the seven-point deficit and turning the tables on a team seven places above them in the league.
For whatever reason, the referee took a dislike for Skipton’s methods.
They worked hard time and time again to establish field position then were penalised which relieved the pressure on West Leeds.
In the first half West Leeds were the offenders, now Skipton were attracting the attention of the match official.
To their credit they kept pressing and right at the death, after concerted pressure, the moment they’d all been waiting for was delivered.
After continued drives, Shaun Barraclough spotted a gap, showed a hint of a dummy and powered his way over for a try. Howson converted via the post to bring the scores level with a few minutes to go.
On a day when the slippery ball had made handling tough it was fitting that Barraclough and his West Leeds counterpart should score tries.
Skipton never do things easily and their man-of-the-match, flanker Josh Beck, was sin-binned for those final minutes.
It was to their credit that they held firm to take a much-deserved share of the points.
The performance had many good things, like the well-worked shortened line-outs, and a full 80 minutes from both props Chris Wright and Simon Bygrave who steamed into the opposition all day long.
The back row of Beck, Ben Hall and Tom Keady played well as a unit as the whole set of forwards appeared to come of age.
In better weather the backs will be able to show their paces too.