In an enthralling game of varsity rugby union Beckett ran out eventual winners by a flattering 46-30 score line.
Before the kick-off, there was a minute’s applause to respect the death of former University of Leeds student Richard Mayne who tragically passed away earlier this year. The crowd, close to 12 000, created an electric atmosphere building up to and throughout the game.
Pre match the biggest question was how would Leeds cope with the Beckett pack, which was a sizeable 65kg heavier. The early indication was that they would struggle as Beckett, who’s last competitive outing was at Twickenham in the national championship final, came out of the blocks firing.
After winning an early scrum they put their pack to effective use. Josh Longson ploughed over the line for the first try of the 10th varsity game. Cargill successfully added the two points from the conversion, giving the Northern Premier champions a 7-0 lead three minutes in.
Beckett continued to threaten in the opening moments but it was Leeds who scored next capitalising from a needless foul. This gifted Guy the chance to score a penalty 30 yards out in front of the sticks.
Beckett dominated the set plays early on and it was a short line out straight from the training ground which saw Paynter run in unopposed to score Becketts 2nd try.
Beckett looked to be running away with the game as just three minutes later Longson went over for his 2nd try and Becketts third giving them a lead of 19-3 with just 22 minutes gone.
But totally against the run of play Leeds immediately went down the other end and with their first meaningful attack scored a try. Guy converted making the game 19-10.
Following a Cargill clearance being charged down more pressure ensued as Leeds desperately tried to reduce the lead further.
A stern defence meant Leeds only managed to score a drop goal before the break, making the half time score 19-13.
During half-time the crowd were treated to an interview with two of the women’s rugby world cup winners and a very entertaining mascot dance off.
The second half picked up very much where the first half left off, with Leeds dominating. Through a combination of mistakes and poor decision making by Beckett, Leeds ran over again and with a successful conversion they now led 20-19.
Beckett were now under the cosh and gave a succession of penalties away, which eventually lead to Guy being able to go for goal from more than 40 yards out. This stretched Leeds’ lead to 4 points (23-19). However back to back penalties by Cargill restored Becketts lead going into the final 5 minutes. The score now standing at 25-23.
Numerous mistakes and a concession of penalties gifted Leeds a dubious try under the sticks. This had looked to give Leeds the win. The score was now 30-25.
But in a most remarkable and astonishing turnaround, Beckett managed to score three tries in five minutes which saw them romp to victory.
The first try came from sustained pressure and as in the opening moments Beckett turned a scrum into a try as Raymond went in from close range.
With the scores at 32-30 to Beckett at this point, Leeds went searching for a try themselves and from great defence, Beckett managed a great counter attack which saw substitute Naylor score a great try to seal the game.
To further compound Leeds’ misery, straight from kick off a great break by Raymond opened the pitch for Ricci to run in easy. Cargill converted and the referee blew for full time.
An excellent varsity finale saw Beckett then cap off an overall varsity victory of 31-25.