YMCA’s brief resurgence ended abruptly at Moortown, where a string of injuries to key players and a failure to retain the ball led to their latest downfall.
In truth, there wasn’t much between the teams, but YM’s failure to retain possession, coupled to a poor kicking game, were the main differences between the sides, allied to the fact they lost both Stuart Morton and player-coach Jamie Marsden to injury, and Gavin Stead to the sin bin.
Sterling performances by captain Neil Walker and second rower Damon Scholes were not enough to tip the balance for the visitors, who got off to the worst possible start when the home linesman signalled the kick-off had gone directly into touch, when a Moortown forward clearly handled but failed to catch the ball.
That gave the Leeds side the early advantage and from the scrum re-start their back row broke away and the move ended with winger Papa Lewis forcing his way over in the corner.
The early breakthrough spurred Moortown on, and after exerting a lot of pressure on the visitors’ line, it was left to hooker Jason Minns to crash over from a maul, to which centre Andy Eastham added the conversion.
YM then began to settle and put together some good passages of play, but were frequently thwarted by not finishing off the move. Eventually, however, their efforts were rewarded when Morton was at the end of a good passing move to score wide out on the right.
James Swift was unable to add the conversion, but at least the visitors were back in the game – until a lapse of concentration allowed left winger Plummer to add to Moortown’s tally with a third try.
Almost on the stroke of half time Marsden took a heavy tackle which left him in agony, and as the referee blew for half time, the player-coach was taken to hospital, where it was revealed he had suffered a stress fracture to his pelvis and serious muscle damage to his lower back.
Swift moved up to stand-off for the start of the second half with Josh Marshall moving to full-back, Neil Pollock coming into the pack and Scholes dropping out on to the wing.
The reshuffle seemed to instil new-found energy into YMCA who went close on several occasions, without adding to their score.
And it was during this period that Moortown virtually sealed the contest, when they broke away against the run of play and full-back Marrison crossed the line, while Eastham added a fifth try after Morton left the field with a hip injury and Stead was sin-binned for a high tackle.
As Moortown tired, YM rallied and a neat kick and chase by scrum half Simon Wilson took him close to the line, where he flicked the ball up neatly to the supporting Simon Whitehead to crash over near the posts, Swift adding the extras.
Minutes later, Scholes, Andy Lyon and Walker combined in a move which ended with the captain getting his reward for his hard day’s work when he outpaced the remnants of the home defence to claim another YM score.
The visitors continued to pile on the pressure in the closing stages but, unfortunately, it was another case of too little too late.
YMCA: Swift, Stead, Clarke, Morton (Whitehead 57), Marshall, Marsden (Pollock 39), Wilson, Watson, Bell, Gregson, Hellawell, Scholes, Lyon, Mazza-Leone, Walker.