Jukes shows a clean pair of heels to leave Grasshoppers in his wake
A scintillating back three performance helped Leeds Tykes maintain their unbeaten start to the National 2 campaign, consolidating their position as early season pacesetters.
Cross-Pennine visitors Preston Grasshoppers fought valiantly to stick in the game early before Pete Seaborne’s men found their groove to win 53 – 21.
The away side took an early lead through Will Hunt’s penalty before the Tykes hit the front when captain Adam Brown scored behind a dominant maul.
Fly-half Hunt added a second penalty to nudge Preston ahead at 5 – 6.
However, the visitor’s lead was short-lived. Harry Jukes went in for his first of four tries on the day. The powerful winger, described by Pete Lucock as ‘a freak’, dived in at the corner after quick hands.
A lack of discipline from the restart gave Preston the opportunity of a quick response as Jack Lightowler scored, enabling the Grasshoppers to retake the lead.
Henry MacNab got on the end of an incisive short-side break, running a great support line for Kit Keith, who had collected Charlie Venables’ grubber kick. Seremaia Bai Turagebeci landed his first conversion in blustery conditions before another Hunt penalty narrowed the gap.
Charlie Venables scored a brace before the interval, with two tries in quick succession. His first was arguably the try of the game as he showed great intuition to spot there was no defence in back-field, chipping over the top delicately before running through to touch down. Turagebeci converted as Preston were reduced to 14 men for repeated technical infringements; Ally Murray was the fall guy for his team’s ill-discipline.
Lively full-back Venables added his second try on the stroke of half time as the League Leaders asserted their authority to go in 29 – 14 in front.
After the break, quick ball from the top of a line-out enabled the backs to strut their stuff, Harry Jukes the beneficiary of a training ground move, muscling off several defenders to race between the posts for his second; Turagebeci added the simple extras.
Moments later, Jukes showed turned on the style, racing in down the left flank after quick-thinking from Henry MacNab to tap and go from a penalty deep in the Leeds half, completing his hat-trick in the process.
With 15 minutes remaining, Man of the Match Jukes scored again out wide, several phases after a barn-storming break from Tobi Ademakin.
Not to be forgotten, impressive full-back Venables helped himself to a hat-trick, converting his own try, bringing up Leeds’ half-century of points.
Preston added a late consolation try through Tyler Spence, which Alex Ward converted. The Tykes were left disappointed to not keep their opponents scoreless in the second half. With this in mind, Tykes Director of Rugby, Pete Seaborne, said: “We played some nice stuff at times but can’t afford to be dropping off as we did late on. We have games against some top teams coming up, so we know we have to perform better.”
Tykes legend Pete Lucock, who returned this year to his ‘spiritual home’ as player/coach, made his first appearance of the campaign off the bench. From the dressing room he said: “The boys are going in the right direction, but we are still learning and growing as a team. To give them a foothold in the game was frustrating but the more we play together as a team, the better we will become.”
Final score 53-21
Report by Ben Cropper