Reigning champions Durham succumbed to their second defeat of the season yesterday with a disappointing 44-26 loss away to Leeds Met Carnegie.
The game was billed as a real ‘double-header’ by Durham head coach Alex keay before the game. A win for the palatinates would have taken them well clear at the top of the table; however, Leeds Met, a notoriously strong, competitive university side, were of two bonus point victories in their next two games.
The surprise victory took Leeds to third in the league with 27 points, six behind Durham; though, the Yorkshire side do have a game in hand on the champions.
The visitors got the best of the opening exchanges, however, as they raced to a 7-0 lead with a try from Joe Butcher and Louis Molloy adding the extras.
In what was soon to become the structure of the game, Leeds replied with a score of their own. The home side forced the mistake from Durham and manage to kick the ball deep into the purple 22; eventually scoring from the resulting lineout. The conversion was missed – 7-5 Durham.
True to form it was now Durham’s turn to score, as the visitors put the ball down between the posts through a piercing line from Rory Gower. The extras were added to extend their lead to 14-5.
Of course, it was now Leeds’s turn to score, only after Durham fell to 14 men with a man injured on the floor. The home side crossed the whitewash and, this time, the kick was good. 14-12 to Durham.
Leeds were then awarded a penalty after an infringement at the scrum, which was duly converted to take the lead.
However, the reigning champions were not behind for long as they quickly took back the lead through Captain Simon Hammersley. Unfortunately the conversion was missed – 19-15 Durham.
Just minutes before the interval, once again true to form, it was now Leeds’s turn to get a score of their own. A period of extended pressure from the home side resulted in a deserved try. 21-19 at the break.
Just minutes into the second half Leeds stomped their authority on the game and scored once again. A driving maul from the impressive Met pack led to the score. The extras were added to give Leeds a ten point advantage at 29-19.
Though, just when Leeds began to see some light at the end of the tunnel, Durham soon hit back in reply. A loose pass was sharply intercepted and run back the length of the field for Durham to touch down under the posts and then add the conversion. 29-26 to Leeds.
However, from then on, in the final quarter of the game it was all about Leeds, who scored a further two tries and a penalty to emerge, in impressive fashion, 44-26 victors.
After a fantastic game of rugby, it seems that the better side on the day got the deserved win. However, the loss for Durham has really tightened things up at the top of the North Premier A League, as now just six points separates them, Loughborough and Leeds Met.