Preseason trip to Face West Leeds Rugby Union Club
Last weekend Garnock made the long trip down to Yorkshire to face West Leeds Rugby Union Club in their second preseason friendly.
Unfortunately a number of players were unable to make the trip due to illness,work and family commitments however a hardy squad of 17 players set off early on Saturday morning for the long drive.
With one of our squad having played (occasionally) for West Leeds during a year at Uni in Leeds the boys were in no doubt that this match would be a significant step up from our earlier preseason game. On arrival in Leeds (75 minutes before kick off) after a 5 hour minibus trip our hosts were already on the pitch warming up. It was obvious this would not be a preseason bounce game .
The game kicked off in sunshine on a very nice, wide , flat (if marginally short) pitch. The opening 10 minutes were relatively even although it was apparent that Garnock were just shading the set piece confrontations. Due to injury and illness Garnock had no recognised hooker with the throwing in duties being undertaken by our new Aussie, Jock McIntosh. Jock’s aim was accurate and Rory Dominy and Ross Johnston were able to secure Garnock’s line out throws and pinch a couple of West Leeds. With 15 minutes gone West Leeds made their way into the Garnock 22 and following stiff defence they turned the ball over and Garnock cleared the ball downfield to safety. Or so they thought. The ball was fielded by West Leeds young winger on his own 10m line and showing outstanding pace and footwork he eluded the Garnock defence to score under the posts. The conversion was successful and Garnock were 7-0 down. The boys learned this hard lesson quickly and no further loose kicks were sent in the young flyers direction.
The remainder of the first 40 minutes was played in the West Leeds half with Garnock gaining the upper hand. The front row of Matt Shiells, Luke Wynn and Fraser Miller were strong in the scrum and prominent in the loose. All three were eager and willing ball carriers regularly getting over the gain line. Second row Lewis McGeachy worked tirelessly making the hard yards and Stuart Wilson tackled, carried, jackled and was an all round nuisance to the opposition (as always)
Garnock repeatedly turned down penalty kicks at goal, which had this been a league fixture would have been kicked, preferring to go to the touchline. One such occasion allowed a secure lineout to be released to the backs and a training ground move involving Ewan Perry, Kier Walker and Jared Reekie resulted in Tony Woods being released wide out to beat the cover defence and touch down in the corner. Unfortunately the conversion was wide (probably because the Report writer left the kicking tee in the changing room ! )
There was no further scoring in the first 40 and half -time was 7-5 to the home side.
The play in the second half pretty much followed the first with Garnock having the majority of the possession and territory however the West Leeds defence was excellent and kept Garnock at bay. The introduction of Gavin Paul and Rory Walker freshened the squad and the boys once again set about trying to add to their points tally. Unfortunately 15 minutes into the half Garnock lost No8 Rory Dominy to a shoulder injury and this severely reduced the lineout options.
West Leeds made regular forays into the Garnock half however these were stoutly defended with young scrum-half Robbie Fraser a willing tackler and wingers, Ben Trodden and Matthew Convery, mopping up any loose kicks which came their way.
With 5 minutes to go Garnock’s small squad number (16) took its toll and the larger squad (23) of West Leeds meant they were able to bring on fresh players when required. A slick handling move by the West Leeds backs resulted in an unconverted try in the corner and a 12-5 lead.
Undaunted the Garnock squad pressed again in the closing stages seeking the try which would bring them level. Despite their best efforts West Leeds defence held them out and the referee blew for full time with the scoreboard unchanged.
Coach , Bill MacDonald , was delighted with his team’s attitude, work ethic and performance .
Garnock would like to thank West Leeds for their generous hospitality. They were fantastic hosts and we look forward to seeing them, either at Lochshore or West Leeds, next preseason