Disappointing Lancaster slump to fourth league defeat

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Lancaster University Rugby Union first team had a disappointing afternoon at home on Wednesday after losing 33–12 to the University of Leeds seconds.

It was the visitors who initially dominated play, easily gaining ground and overpowering Lancaster’s defence.  However, poor passing from Leeds meant it wasn’t long before Lancaster gained possession and were able to highlight their strength in attack. Yet, likewise to their opponents, it was sloppy ball handling that scuppered any real chances of a try.

Both teams adopted a negative kicking game in the first half which didn’t benefit either side but it was a lovely chip forward which allowed Leeds to evade the Lancaster defence and plant their first try between the posts and convert easily.

The toing and froing of possession kept play quick and Lancaster finally made a break in the 21st minute when Luke Dilly was allowed an unobstructed run down the touchline, scoring comfortably.  The conversion unfortunately was way off the mark.

Lancaster kept the pressure on, battering Leeds’ defensive line for the next ten minutes and fighting for every inch of ground.  The result: another try, converted this time, and Lancaster went into the lead.

Leeds quickly stepped it up in response, scoring shortly before half time and converting easily but Lancaster showed no let up and almost claimed another try before the whistle.  Leeds went into the break with a lead of 14-12.

Leeds started strong in the second half and, despite relatively strong defensive efforts from Lancaster, extended their lead in the first five minutes with another converted try.  Lancaster’s attempts to drive play were marred by an apparent unwillingness to pass the ball and allowed Leeds to easily regain and retain possession.

After an unsuccessful penalty kick Lancaster seemed to lose interest, giving Leeds easy breaks and so much space that another try was inevitable.  A superb interception from Leeds fly half Jack Gaff added a try to his clean kicking record.

Lagging behind Leeds’ 28 points, any hopes of a fruitful Lancaster comeback were dwindling.  Leeds’ final try was a perfect example of how simple, well-executed ball play pays dividends – straight down the three quarter line and over the try line without contest from a Lancaster team who appeared to have all but given up.

The home side showed some signs of life, pushing Leeds back into their own 22 and controlling play once again but the urge to slam into the opposition and hope for the best lost them the ball and, unsurprisingly, the match.

After the match, Lancaster Captain Wilf Whittle said the team were “gutted” about the result.  The squad have recently implemented a ‘high risk, high reward’ strategy but unfortunately Wednesday’s match didn’t feature too much reward.  Whittle went on to say that the team “made a lot of mistakes” and after a winning performance against the Lancashire under 20s team last week the Lancaster team were clearly frustrated by the poor result.

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