Tykes march on to overhaul 13 point deficit
Leeds Tykes ran in seven converted tries to extend their winning start to the National 2 North campaign, becoming the only side to clock up the maximum of 15 points from their opening three matches.
Seremaia Bai Turagabeci continued his fine form from the kicking tee, slotting everything in his sights to give Leeds a comfortable looking 34-49 victory at Brantingham Park.
In reality that wasn’t the case, both sides came into the fixture having won their first two league outings. Fresh from local derby victories last week, the early exchanges were hard-fought.
The home side opened the scoring when Lewis Minikin landed a penalty. As they have done before, the Tykes needed this incentive to spark themselves into life. Ionians gave away a penalty from the restart and Leeds confidently kicked to the corner. The five-metre lineout, led to a strong driving maul, after which the backline got involved with Tom Williams crashing over from close range. Turagabeci converted, 3-7.
Then Ionians’ Nathan Hill exploited the overlap to score. Minikin added a superb touchline conversion, 10-7.
The Tykes kick-off went straight into touch, giving Ionians a scrum on halfway. Despite being pushed off their own ball as messy play ensued, Hull were given a penalty for Minikin to extend their lead, 13-7.
On 22 minutes, Nathan Hill crossed for his second try after the ball was transferred quickly through the hands. Minikin was again on target leaving the Tykes with work to do, 20-7.
As the half hour mark came around, Charlie Venables exploited backfield indecision to force his way over after a chip and chase. Turagabeci added the simple extras to reduce the deficit, 20-14.
As Leeds shuffled their forward pack, Tom Williams thought he’d scored again. However, the referee said he’d knocked on in the act of scoring. Ionians restarted with a drop-out, but Leeds piled on the pressure. They thought they had done enough to secure a halftime lead when Will Hardwick dotted down at the base of a rolling maul, which Turagabeci converted, 20-21.
The Tykes’ lead was short and sweet. The defence took one second too long over the exit and Minikin was left with the simplest of tasks to score unopposed between the posts. He converted his own try to give the hosts a six-point lead at the break, 27-21.
Tykes started the second half well, but Ionians were the first to trouble the scoreboard operator. Sustained pressure from the home side was repelled by strong Leeds defence. Just as the Tykes broke up field, they were picked off by Sam Pocklington’s opportunist interception. Minikin nudged over the extra two, 34-21.
From that moment onwards, Leeds’ superior fitness began to show. Hardwick went quickly from a tap penalty before Ben Dixon scored out wide several phases later to confirm the four-try bonus point. Turagabeci’s kicking streak continued to make it 34-28.
Tobi Ademakin continued to make good yardage to prolong the Tykes onslaught. His big break into Ionians’ territory was soon followed by one from Jake Brady, laying a platform for Venables to go in for his second score. Seremaia kicked the goal to bring Leeds ahead once more, 34-35.
As Ionians threw everything at their West Yorkshire rivals, gaps started to appear in their defence. Successive advantages from the official gave Leeds territory as Junior Nu’u touched down in the corner. Turagabeci made sure of the extras, 34-42.
Just as the home crowd started to disperse, youngster Lucas Walsh went over to send the entire Tykes squad and travelling support back across the M62 with a spring in their step. With his final contribution, Turagabeci gave us a final score of 34-49.
After the match, Pete Seabourne, Director of Rugby, said: “It’s a good win away from home but we gave far too many penatlies away and made too many errors.
“Winning is becoming a habit. We looked the fitter side and I thought that if anyone was going to score towards the end, it’d be us. We are a long way off, and still have much work to do.”
Assistant coach, Pete Lucock added: “We played well in spells today and put some nice moves together. Our attack went well but there is still a lot to work on defensively and from restarts.”
Looking forward to next week’s game at West Park Leeds, he said, “The Yorkshire derbies keep on coming with the visit of Hull RUFC next week. They lost to Ionians last week in a keenly contested game so it should be another good contest for us.”
Utility back Charlie Venables said: “It’s great to keep the winning run going. The boys are playing for each other and enjoying the clear messages we are getting from the new coaching staff as they try to get some new ideas across.
“Once we start to get some consistency of selection, we will be a match for most teams at this level. We are playing an exciting brand of rugby, which suits my game personally. I hope the supporters are enjoying what they are seeing.”
Final score 34-49
Report by Ben Cropper