STUNNED chairman Phil Christopher described West Leeds’ historic RFU Intermediate Cup success as “nothing short of incredible” as the club won at Twickenham for a second successive season.
It was the third year in a row they had played at ‘headquarters’ and, having lifted the RFU Senior Vase last term, remarkably they reached and won the final of the higher level national competition at the first attempt on Saturday.
West Leeds defeated London side Charlton Park 35-26 on a thrilling day for the county that also saw delighted Goole beat Spartans 31-24 in their maiden national final to lift the RFU Junior Vase.
Furthermore, Yorkshire claimed their ninth Jason Leonard Under-20 County Championship Division One final with a tight 14-7 success over Durham, Ben Winterburn scoring the White Rose try in the first half and Luke White kicking three penalties.
However, West Leeds’ feat was arguably the highlight given their back story.
In a stunning campaign, they have also achieved back-to-back promotions, the Yorkshire Two champions finishing runners-up in Yorkshire One to be elevated into North East One for 2017-18.
Christopher told The Yorkshire Post: “We’re over the moon.
“To back up what we did last year is nothing short of incredible.
“The RFU told us it’s the first time any side has ever won the Senior Vase and then gone on to lift the Intermediate Cup as well.
“It is a hell of an achievement and it was a fantastic game, too, that really ebbed and flowed.
“Charlton Park played great but we just don’t know when to give up.
“I can’t think of any other way to describe it; the lads really dug in to get over the line.”
Former Leeds Rhinos rugby league star Mark Calderwood had an eventful afternoon, scoring two tries to take his tally for the season to 21, but also being sent off late on after a second yellow card.
The former England rugby league winger had been sin-binned towards the end of the first half for a deliberate knock-on and was then dismissed in the closing stages for a high tackle but it did not deny his side a famous success.
Centre Sam Neave put Calderwood over early on and then the captain scored himself with an intercept try, both converted by Dale Breakwell for a swift 14-0 lead.
However, the game was level 14-14 at half-time after Charlton Park fought back and then West Leeds actually trailed 26-21 heading into the final quarter of the final.
But Park’s Gregory Heloir was sin-binned in the 63rd minute and the Yorkshire side eventually capitalised, Jack Marshall scoring a fine try with Breakwell adding his fourth conversion to hand them the lead.
Their opponents were then further reduced to 13 men as Reion Raybe was yellow-carded for deliberately throwing the ball into touch when under pressure, Calderwood exploiting the extra space with his second converted try to ease the tension before he was dismissed himself.
Steven Anderson had earlier scored Wests’ other touchdown. The 30-year-old prop kicked through a loose ball in his own half and then won the chase to hack the ball ahead again before touching down for a brilliant try.
Christopher added: “It was a really tough game. Charlton Park probably had the edge up front in the first half but we got back into it in that area in the second.
“We then got some quick ball and the backs did their jobs.
“Calders had a great game with his two tries while our full-back, Steffan James, won man-of-the-match. It was a brilliant afternoon and we’re so proud of everyone.”