Leeds Tykes 29 Taunton Titans 41: Why director of rugby Phil Davies is encouraged in spite of National One opening-day defeat

Leeds may well have lost their first match in National One by six tries to four, but there were encouraging signs to suggest that the Tykes, now based at The Sycamores ground in Bramhope, may develop into a competitive team at level three in English rugby.
Encourged, Leeds Tykes director of rugby, Phil Davies. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images.Encourged, Leeds Tykes director of rugby, Phil Davies. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images.
Encourged, Leeds Tykes director of rugby, Phil Davies. Picture: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Leeds, a young and inexperienced team, scored four excellent tries by prop Xavier Valentine, centre Ben Dixon, winger Harry Robinson, running 40 metres to the line, and by left-winger Harry Jukes after intelligent work by centre Tom Williams and full-back Charlie Venables.

Another highlight was a long-range penalty from 45 metres by Venables just before half-time which provided a lead of 29-19.

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However, Leeds, who scored all their points in the first half in what was a close contest, were largely responsible for their own downfall.

Taunton, also making their National One debut, should be grateful that all four of their tries before the interval were the result of Leeds conceding penalties.

The Somerset club’s forwards were a powerful unit with four of their tries coming from the pack, two by prop Isaac Dalton, flanker Charlie Wright and the outstanding Fijian flanker Ratu Vakalutukali, serving in the Royal Marines.

Leeds led just 29-26 at the break but then threw away six opportunities to open their account in National One with a morale boosting win.

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Leeds’ director of rugby, Phil Davies, wasn’t too disheartened by the defeat and was clear why his team lost.

“The weakness was our discipline. We gave away four of five penalties which resulted in tries and, in the second half, we missed six or seven chances.

“But there are a lot of these things that are fixable. We played with confidence, lots of enthusiasm and understanding. Our back three, Jukes, Robinson and Venables are potent and try scorers. I thought our scrum went OK and our line-out worked quite nicely.

“This is a new team and a young one. Our hooker against Taunton, Jonty Mainey, is only 18.”

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He added: “We have strong links with Leeds Becket University which is beneficial.

“ How long I’ll be here who knows, but my aim is about putting the Leeds rugby union team back into a position where people can be really proud of them again.”

In what is a tough league, the Tykes’ next match on Saturday is in London against Rosslyn Park, one of the favourites to win the competition.

Park started their campaign with a good performance against Plymouth Albion who were beaten by 37-8.