Beverley 12-6 Leodensian
Frequent spells of swirling rain and a fierce wind blowing diagonally from corner to corner; it might have been expected that this would be an afternoon of uninspiring rugby for supporters and those attending the ex-players’ reunion. But surprisingly both sides made light of the conditions and produced an enthralling game with plenty of running rugby and end to end action. The result could have gone either way but ultimately Beverley’s fine defensive work and better use of the ball saw them home even though at the end it did become a pretty close-run thing.
Beverley went behind to an early penalty for which hooker Steve Payne was yellow carded. But although down to fourteen they quickly struck back to take the lead with a fine converted try. A Leodensians drop-out from under the posts went straight into touch resulting in a five-metre scrum. From it Beverley went left with Phil Duboulay turning the ball back inside to send centre Louis Butler scything through the middle and touching down under the posts.
A thrilling fifty metre run out of defence shortly afterwards by Jacob Baggs was the highlight of the day. His subsequent kick diagonally towards the opposite touchline led to a Beverley scrum in the Leodensian’s corner. The ball was moved right and Baggs, back on his own wing, had an easy run-in for a second Beverley try. Duboulay was unlucky with the conversion from the touchline when the ball swerved off course in the wind just as it looked destined to sail between the posts.
12-3 at halftime it was still all to play for even though Beverley were two scores ahead. Leodensians with the wind now behind them gave it everything. For much of the second half, they enjoyed the better of the territorial play but there was no way through some excellent Beverley defending. Time after time they were cut down before they could effect an opening. They did reduce the lead with a second penalty to make it 12-6 but in truth, the home line was never seriously threatened from open play.
Duboulay throughout controlled the game astutely from fly-half and despite less possession, the Beverley backline generally looked the one more likely to cut loose. Some lively runs by Luke Hazell, Baggs, and Rob Smith might easily have brought positive results. Upfront Aiden Calvert, Jack Houseman and Mike Melhuish frequently caught the eye.
In increasingly difficult conditions with the frequency and severity of the rain worsening running rugby ought realistically to have been off the cards but both sides continued to make light of it. As the half progressed it looked more and more likely that one more score one way or the other would probably settle it. By the time the game had reached its final stages, Leodensians had assumed some degree of control and were going all out for the converted try that would have snatched the victory. It was all getting a bit nail-biting for Beverley in the dying minutes as the visiting pack increasingly pounded the home line only to be rebuffed by determined defending which kept them out.
Eventually, with the last action of the match, Leodensians moved the ball wide to their wing who had a clear run to the corner. But it was not quite the last action of the match. Butler suddenly appeared out of nowhere somehow bundled him into touch as he was on the point of touching down. A tremendous match-saving tackle if ever there was one. A try and conversion would have given Leodensians a one-point victory. Admittedly the necessary conversion from the touchline would have been pretty difficult in the wind, but you never know, and fortunately for Beverley it never came to that.