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Basic errors mean Skipton gift wrap victory for Leeds Medics & Dentists
Leeds Medics & Dentists 25, Skipton 16
Skipton arrived in some disarray for this SSE Yorkshire Division Three match after suffering two late backwords on the journey into Leeds,.
However, a quickly re-arranged team – with a now depleted replacements’ bench – took to the field determined to notch a second win of the season.
Medics started well when Skipton failed to secure kick-off ball – a recurring problem that needs addressing urgently.
The home side, buoyed by the territorial gain, were able to exert pressure on the reds’ line for long periods throughout the first half.
But the concentration and ability shown in defence was excellent for the first 20 minutes, and Medics never looked capable of scoring until an all-too-familiar lapse helped the home side nudge ahead with a soft, gifted try and conversion.
Skipton began to exert some pressure themselves and showed exactly what they are capable of.
After gaining good field position when Miff Smith released centre partner Lee Shaw on a typical hard-yard burst, the forwards took control from the ensuing ruck and set up a driving maul spearheaded by Rick Willsher and marshalled by Alex Baldwin.
The scrum half barked out his orders, dragging men into position, and with good timing took the ball and sped through the bewildered home defence to score under the posts.
Jeremy Hargreaves duly added the conversion to draw the Reds level as the clock ticked towards half-time.
Rugby of that quality played at the intensity Skipton are capable of will destroy most teams in this division.
However, that Achilles heel of failing again to secure the re-start resulted in Skipton putting unnecessary pressure on themselves.
The Medics capitalised and eventually forced a penalty in the last play of the half to take a 10-7 lead.
With all the elements now in their favour, Skipton started the second half clearly favourites to win.
Inexplicably after the half-time briefing which made it clear which area of the park Skipton needed to play in, the wrong option was taken at the re-start and failure to get the ball past the ten-metre line resulted in a Medics scrum on halfway.
From that possession, the home fly half began to prod and poke kicks into space behind, forcing Skipton to back pedal in defence.
The home side eventually created enough room to put their pacy right winger away in the corner for an unconverted try.
However, the reds upped their game and progressed steadily downfield, forcing a penalty which Hargreaves slotted.
A pattern was emerging in the visitors’ play when again a fumbled re-start led to loss of possession and Medics again worked the ball to create another try-scoring opportunity wide out, taken with clinical ease to ominously open up a 20-10 lead.
Nevertheless, Skipton rallied and took a firm grip on the game, forcing the home side into ever more desperate measures to keep the Reds at bay, conceding two penalties in the process, which Hargreaves secured.
Trailing 20-16 in what was still an eminently winnable game, Skipton failed to grasp the opportunity as their general play deteriorated, with support play drying up and turnover ball increasing by the minute.
Prospect of victory turned to abject misery when Medics forced a late error, scoring a long-range try wide out to seal a gift-wrapped victory.
Medics have therefore leapfrogged Skipton to 11th in the table, the reds lying 12th above only Burley and Hemsworth.
On Saturday, Skipton welcome former coach Martin Whitcombe and his Old Grovians.
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