A delighted Jon Callard was full of praise for his side after they came back from a 14-point deficit to salvage a share of the points for the second game running.
The former England international admitted after the game, it was the type of emotional performance he had challenged his team to produce. “It was important for us to end our year at West Park with a positive performance,” he said.
“The way we fought back into the game shows our character and provides us with a platform going into next week at Plymouth.”
The visitors were on top in the early stages, with Tykes reduced to 13 men in the first 10 minutes: Tom Williams and Will Dennis getting on the wrong side of the referee. Cambridge were unable to make their numerical advantage count and found themselves trailing from a Tighe Maxwell-Whiteley penalty on 21 minutes.
The only other score in the first half came from Cambridge winger Josef Green, who ran a great line from deep, before crabbing across the field to touch down in the left corner; Steffan James added the touchline conversion. Going into the sheds at halftime behind was a source of disappointment for Tykes players and supporters alike, especially considering the visitors were down to 13 at the time of their try.
Filled with confidence, Cambridge dominated much of the third quarter. They deservedly stretched their lead when Nana Kwaku Asiedu was left the simplest of scores following an incisive break down the outside centre channel. James hit the post with the conversion.
Ten minutes later, Ben Brownlie forced his way over from a driving maul. James again hit the upright with the attempted conversion.
Unlike games earlier in the season, the Leeds’ heads didn’t drop; Kieran Davies used his trademark quick feet to burst the line before finding Charlie Venables on his inside shoulder to score. Maxwell-Whiteley added the easy extras.
A buoyant Tykes pack got a grip of proceedings to rescue a second successive home draw for the Yorkshiremen. Ben Sugars dotted down behind a dominant maul before Maxwell-Whiteley made sure the game ended level.
Cambridge turned down kickable penalty chances in the closing stages in search of what would have been a bonus point victory. However, thanks to the Tykes resilient defence their fourth try never came and the points were shared.
After the game, Callard acknowledged the progress his side were making, saying, “We are not far away from being a good side. We must learn our little indiscretions at times. We can learn from our failure to capitalise when they were reduced to 13, that is where we can improve.
“We have a long trip to Plymouth next week which will be a big task ahead of us, before we play our annual game at Headingley before Christmas against Sale.”
Final score 17 – 17