BIG MATCH PREVIEW - Leeds Tykes

 

by PETER WOODROOFE


MOSELEY v Leeds Tykes - National League One, Saturday, February 24th @ Billesley, Kick-off, 3pm. (but come for lunch!)
 

High achievers
It’s a pleasure to welcome the players, officials and supporters of Leeds Tykes to Billesley on Saturday, a club which has achieved much in League rugby, including six seasons in the Premiership with a highest position of fifth in 2002-3. The Leeds club was relegated back to National One at the end of last season, but with many new players, the new Director of Rugby, Stuart Lancaster, succeeding Phil Davies, has quickly assembled a squad that is currently top of the division leading Earth Titans by eight points, though the Titans have a game in hand.

Club link-up
Leeds RUFC was born out of an amalgamation in 1991 of Headingley, founded in 1878 and reborn in 1891, and Roundhay, founded in 1924. Moseley had a regular fixture with Headingley FC for years and came up against such international players as PETER WINTERBOTTOM, JOHN SPENCER and IAN McGEECHAN. The fixture with Roundhay was intermittent, but Moseley played them in the RFU Cup Competition i9n 1973-4, winning 8-3 in Round One at Chandos Park.

International honours

RICHARD CARDUS, DENIS WILKINS and KEITH SMITH won Internationals caps while in the Roundhay ranks. SMITH featured in England’s first full tour of Australia in 1975, but had to return home injured and WILKINS, who was also in the Royal Navy, won 13 caps, 1951-53.

Marriage of equals
When the amalgamation came in 1990-91 both were in National Three. The relegation made it logical that the two clubs should become Leeds RUFC, especially as professionalism was in the air as a result of what was going on in the Southern Hemisphere, a far-sighted move as it turned out. However it was a not-too-popular move with the diehards of Headingley, the club with the longer history which had struggled through the Northern clubs breakaway from the Rugby Union in 1893. But later events proved it a justifiable one.

Rising ambition
In the first season in National Three, Leeds finished sixth, but League reorganisation put the club in National Four, with finishes of sixth, sixth and fifth in 1995-6. The extent of the club’s ambition became manifest in the following season in finishing third, scoring 1,209 points in thirty games, with the former England ‘A’ outside-half GERRY AINSCOUGH scoring 307 points, and the ex-Scotland ‘A’ utility back MARK APPLESON scoring sixteen tries.

Promotion
In 1997-8, promotion was achieved from the newly-formed Jewson One to Premiership Two, finishing runners-up to Worcester. The Tongan SATEKI TUIPULOTU scored a then club record 322 points. He went on to score 349 points for Worcester in 2000-01 in National One, still a Worcester club record for points scored in a season. Leeds finished sixth in the first season in Premiership Two with the Tongan scoring 250 points and SIMON MIDDLETON and JONATHAN SCALES scoring ten tries apiece.

First meeting
It was then that Moseley met Leeds, at The Reddings in September 1998. Moseley had never met Headingley or Roundhay in League rugby before. Moseley had just come out of administration after the club had been bought by Moseley Ventures and the 27-22 win at the The Reddings in the second game as a new squad assembled by the Moseley Director of Rugby, JOHN WHITE, was a remarkable, almost miraculous, achievement. Leeds, however, were up and running by the time the return game was played at Headingley winning 50-6.

Winning streak
The clubs have met each other on five subsequent occasions, Leeds winning them all, 15-11 and 50-23 away and 53-13, 19-16 and this season 37-27 at home, when Moseley was thwarted of a bonus point by a last minute penalty kicked by Moseley old boy LEIGH HINTON.

Old boys ‘done good’
Leeds gained promotion to National One in 2001-01. Former Moseley player RICHARD LE BAS scored 337 points and GRAHAM MACKAY, a product of Leeds Rhinos scored 19 tries, both club season’s records which stand to date.

The aforementioned LEIGH HINTON, a Moseley Colt, was in Moseley’s team which defeated Leeds Academy in the first National Colts Cup Final in 1998. He is now the leading scorer for Leeds this season with 208 points. The irony of life, even on the rugby scene!

HINTON has a prolific points scoring record at most of the clubs he has played for in the professional era – 227 points for Moseley, 109 points for Birmingham & Solihull, 313 points for Orrell and 347 points for Bedford, still a club season’s record.

Previous encounter
The Leeds Director of Rugby STUART LANCASTER actually played for Leeds Tykes as an openside flanker in the first match between the two clubs at The Reddings in September 1998. Another player taking part was the former Welsh fly-half COLIN STEPHENS who also did much to bring Leeds to Premiership Two (National One) status from 1995. Lancaster was the first player to make one hundred appearances for Leeds and had represented Scotland at U19 and U21 levels and Scotland Students.

Rebuild
After losing many quality players following relegation from the Premiership, including IAIN BALSHAW, fly-half GORDON ROSS and scrum-half JUSTIN MARSHALL, hooker GORDON BULLOCK and lock TOM PALMER, Lancaster has put together a strong squad that is on the way to taking Leeds back into the Premiership. Leeds plays in the Headingley Carnegie Stadium, a ground that meets the criteria of the Premiership, whereas the grounds of some of the promotion aspirants have yet to reach the required standard.

New signings
The new players signed include HINTON, who still has an allegiance to Moseley, having joined the MPA and the 300 Club, a warm welcome to him, ex-Leeds Rhinos Academy, Castleford Tigers and, moving to the Union game last season, Leinster last season, centre JONNY HEPWORTH, full-back RICHARD WELDING, ex-Cornish Pirates, scrum-half JACON RAULUNI, ex-Rotherham and Bristol, scrum-half DARREN EDWARDS, from London Irish, winger JOHN HOLTOY, from Earth Titans, and centre ANITELIA TUILAGO, on loan from Leicester.

New forwards include flanker MARK LOCK from Wasps, Argentinian 7s and ex-Plymouth Albion flanker MARTIN SCHUSTERMAN, No 8 RHYS OAKLEY, from Newport Gwent Dragons, hooker RICHARD PARKES from Gloucester and props USA international MIKE McDONALD, ex-Worcester who has helped the Eagles to qualify for the World Cup, and COLIN NOON from Biarritz.

They all join leading try scorer this season centre TOM RUCK, centre ANDRE SNYMAN, over 50 appearances, winger TOM BIGGS, back from injury, eight tries last season, fly-half RICHARD VASEY and forwards locks STUART HOOPER and KEARNAN MYALL, flanker JON DUNBAR and hooker ROB RAWLINSON.

Fine season
Leeds Tykes have only lost three games this season, home to London Welsh in the first game and away at Bedford and Earth Titans. They have drawn away at Cornish Pirates. They have scored ninety tries to date, averaging nearly four a match.
However, they have conceded 373 points and five clubs have conceded less.

Forward looking
Moseley will have to forget the disappointing result at Sedgley Park, a game they could have won but for occasional wrong options and errors in attack and defence which were immediately punished. The squad's commitment cannot be faulted and on Saturday in a game the club is not expected to win, the players can shrug off their apparent nervousness and express themselves.

NATHAN BRESSINGTON could return on Saturday which will increase the cutting edge, and Moseley developed flanker DUNCAN WHITE, has returned to the club and played in Moseley’s last two games.

Hope springs…
Obviously supporters will be hoping for a miracle result on Saturday, as in 1998. We hope the Leeds travellers will enjoy our new ground at Billesley, the result of whole-hearted endeavour and the loyalty and determination of many. Our players will show the same spirit. To all, enjoy the camaraderie in the clubhouse and hospitality boxes before and after the game.
 

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