Consistency is the key for Leeds Tykes, insists boss Phil Davies

DELIVERING back-to-back league wins for the first time since their reformation is what Leeds Tykes director of rugby Phil Davies has challenged his squad to achieve today.

They go on the road to Caldy in National One buoyed by last Saturday’s last-ditch victory against Blackheath.

It was only Tykes’ second win of the campaign but it lifted them away from the foot of the table and augmented their belief they can compete in this division.

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“The players have been good this week,” said Davies.

Leeds Tykes director of rugby Phil Davies on the sidelines against Blackheath. Picture: Tony Johnson.

“We had a few bumps and bruises after Saturday so we’re having to make a couple of changes for Caldy but not many.

“What’s happened in previous games, we’ve conceded late – either before half-time or towards the end of the game – and we’ve lost.

“But against Blackheath, to be fair to them, they showed great resilience and character to get back and score.

“They are a bit more confident this week – not that that’s been an issue – but there is a bit of a spring in their step.

Leeds Tykes' Harry Robinson on the attack against Blackheath. Picture: Tony Johnson.

“We’re looking forward to going over to Caldy.”

Stringing together successive victories would be another sign of progress for a side who had lost six of their opening seven league fixtures.

“That is the key,” added the former Wales international.

“I’ve told them the challenge now is to keep backing it up and gaining points.

Leeds Tykes' Tom Collins is tackled by the Blackheath defence. Picture: Tony Johnson.

“There are 35 points on offer in these next seven games [heading into Christmas].

“We got five against Blackheath and it’s the next five we’re after now or the next four.

“That’s their challenge; to be more consistent.”

Tykes’ youthful squad consists of more players under 23 than older and – when Covid shut down the Championship in March last year – Yorkshire Carnegie, as they were then still known, were essentially left with just eight players to begin the rebuild.

It is understandable why the course so far has been tricky but Davies – who took Leeds to Powergen Cup glory at Twickenham, into the Premiership and Europe during his first stint in charge – is relishing the new challenges.

Clearly, it is far different to the previous heights he experienced with the club.

Has he found National One opponents have looked at Leeds as fallen giants to be shot at?

Davies, 58, said: “What I’ve enjoyed is going to clubs where there’s players I actually coached who are now coaching themselves.

“(Ex-Leicester Tigers No8) Adam Baldwin is director of rugby at Moseley and we worked together at Worcester while (former Tykes scrum-half) Clive Stuart-Smith is head coach at Cinderford and we worked together at Leeds and Scarlets.

“Those things are quite nice and I do think everyone realises we’ve been in a tough spot and we’re now rebuilding.

“We’re trying to play rugby in the right way and it is all about trying to rebuild credibility and respect.

“It will take time. But the boys are having a go and that is clear to see.

“We’ve not had any of the university lads in yet as they are in their Super League season.

“We’re building from that small base of eight players to a squad now of around 28.

“And it is a build but the squad are showing plenty of character and spirit. We’ll be looking for our third win on Saturday and finding that consistency.”

Merseyside club Caldy, promoted two years ago but essentially experiencing their first campaign back in the sport’s third tier, sit in seventh having won four and drawn two of their opening eight games.

They are coached by Matt Cairns, the former Sale and Saracens hooker who earned a solitary England cap against South Africa in 2007.

Davies said: “He’s done a good job with them.

“They have a big pack of forwards and they play with a good all-round game.

“They have experience there and move the ball a lot.

“And that’s not just in your half; they’ll attack you from their 22 as well.

“They have a few little moves here and there, good variety.

“There’s some good sides around and I have been impressed with the style of rugby in this league. It’s a good experience at the moment.”