From the first minute, Leyland got stuck into the game with real grit and determination. Making good yards forward in attack and also restricting the visitor’s territory with some great linespeed and numbers in the tackle.
For the first 10 minutes of the match, both sides were locked in a real arm wrestle, although the Warriors were beginning to gain the upper hand in territory, with Jake Harrison and Leon Whatton getting Leyland on the front foot with some strong kick returns. On the back of this, the Warriors began to make more yards from the forwards, with Ellis Abrams and Isaac Howard making half-breaks.
A nice shift to the right saw Jack Lightowler break clear from halfway, only to be dragged down just short of the line by great cover defence. Two plays later with the ball moved infield, Dan Croniken hit a short lead pass and crashed over through a posse of defenders. Ellis Abrams converted. 6-0.
The Warriors’ defence continued to dominate, Charlie Hicks, Howard and Croniken leading the way, with Leyland’s players driving Westhoughton runners back in the tackle. An error resulting from this pressure saw Leyland receive the ball just inside the Lion’s half and a superb floated pass from Nathan Roberts saw Croniken break the line again. On the next play Lightowler was held up on the try line but offloaded to Jack Roberts whose superb long pass found Ben McGarvey and he out paced his marker to score in the right corner. 10-0.
As Leyland’s defence continued to be the outstanding feature of the game, they continued to dominate the territorial battle and when Nathan Roberts’ chip over the defence was hacked on by Lightowler and Westhoughton collected the ball on their own line. Defensive pressure forced an error and when the ball was brought into midfield, Croniken again proved unstoppable from close range, dragging two players over to score. Abrams added the extras again. 16-0.
In a classic ‘game of two halves’, the Warriors lost their shape in attack after the break, making a number of unforced errors which were not present in the first period. More importantly, Leyland lost their control in defence and a resurgent Lions started to make good gains going forward. Despite Leyland conceding a couple of linebreaks, cover tackles from Whatton and Lightowler ended the threat to the Warriors’ line. When the Warriors were on the front foot in defence, both Lightowler and Jack Roberts came up with punishing shots that saw opponents leave the field.
As the game went on, Jack Roberts, Kyle Fell and Howard all continued to threaten in attack but Westhoughton defended well, forcing Leyland to complete their sets and work hard to try and find space. The only score of the second half came when Charlie McDonald took a quick tap following a penalty and proved too strong from close range. 20-0.
While Leyland still have plenty to work on at training, their defensive effort was top draw today and to have kept a very good opponent scoreless speaks highly of the lads’ performance. Well done boys!
Team: Leon Whatton, Ben McGarvey, Jack Lightowler, Jack Roberts, Kyle Fell, Ellis Abrams, Nathan Roberts, Tom Edge, Charlie Hicks, Euan Thomas, Jake Harrison, Isaac Howard, Dan Croniken – Conrad Amer, Sam Houghton, Will Down, Charlie McDonald
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