Comeback win for rugby union firsts

University of Leeds seconds 10-15 University of Sheffield

The University of Sheffield rugby union first team left it until the final play of the game to come away with three points in their opening BUCS Northern Conference 1A match after beating a stubborn Leeds side.

After being behind for all of the game, two tries from wing Joe Stevens in the final 20 minutes saw Sheffield home after a frustrating performance.

Sheffield began the match well, putting pressure on Leeds and defending well. The wet conditions resulted in scrum after scrum, which Sheffield dominated all game. However, Sheffield were unable to convert pressure into points in the first half and against the run of play Leeds shipped the ball wide and ran in a try in the right hand corner, though missed the conversion.

The scrappy style of the game continued with neither team able to put together consistent phases. The Sheffield tight five continued to put pressure on their opponents in the scrum but a few half breaks were forced back into a contest at the break down.

After an extended period of sustained pressure, Leeds began to work their way back up the field which resulted in another try – a carbon copy of their previous try in the corner. Again the conversion was missed.

The half finished with another series of scrums five metres from the Leeds line. The referee became impatient with the Leeds front row and awarded Sheffield the penalty. Instead of going for goal, Sheffield opted for another scrum; number eight and captain Jonny France offloaded to scrum half Rowan Mason, who went over for what Sheffield thought was their first try, only to be brought back by the referee for a knock on. Leeds led 10-0 at the interval.

The second half began much like the first with most of the play being made in the centre of the pitch. Up until 60 minutes it seemed that Leeds would hold on for the win. However, after repeated infringements, the referee sin binned a Leeds second row. Buoyed by the man advantage, Sheffield began to string more constructive phases of play together.

The Sheffield backs shipped the ball wide to centre Freddie Everitt, who broke the Leeds defensive line and then offloaded to Stevens, who went in for his first try, converted by Andrew Magowan. The deficit was reduced to 10-7.

Sheffield, now with their tails up, knew the win was there for the taking. With Leeds’ pack tiring, hands in the ruck resulted in a Sheffield penalty 30 metres out. Magowan stepped up and successfully converted. The scores were level with just five minutes to go.

After the kick off, Leeds nearly delivered a killer blow but Julian Wallace brought their winger down yards from the Sheffield line. With both teams clearing their lines and kicking possession to each other it seemed that the match was destined for a draw.

In the final minute of play, instead of gathering possession full back Keith Wardley volleyed the Leeds clearance kick and impressively gathered the ball. Supporting Wardley, great interplay from the Sheffield backs resulted in Stevens crossing in the left hand corner for his second try, sealing the win. Magowan missed the touchline conversion, but it mattered not and the referee blew for full time, much to the relief of Sheffield.

Elsewhere there were defeats at home for the seconds and thirds. The seconds lost 34-3 to Newcastle’s seconds, while the thirds were defeated 25-10 by Leeds.

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