Leeds Tykes show promise as they begin forging new identity under Phil Davies

Leeds may well have lost their first match in National One by six tries to four, but there were encouraging signs to suggest that the Tykes, now based at The Sycamores ground in Bramhope, may develop into a competitive team at level three of English rugby.

Leeds Tykes Harry Jukes (Picture: John Ashton)

Leeds, a young and inexperienced team, scored four excellent tries by prop Xavier Valentine, centre Ben Dixon, winger Harry Robinson, running 40 metres to the line, and by left winger Harry Jukes after intelligent work by centre Tom Williams and full- back Charlie Venables.

Another highlight was a long-range penalty from 45 metres by Venables just before half-time which provided a lead of 29-19.

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However, Leeds – who scored all their points in the first half in what was a close contest – were largely responsible for their own downfall.

Taunton, also making their National One debut, should be grateful that all four of their tries before the interval were the result of Leeds conceding penalties.

The Somerset club’s forwards were a powerful unit with four of their tries coming from the pack, two by prop Isaac Dalton, flanker Charlie Wright and the outstanding Fijian flanker Ratu Vakalutukali, serving in the Royal Marines.

Leeds led-just 29-26 at the break but then threw away six opportunities to open their account in National One with a moraleboosting win.

Penalised several times in the second half having created promising positions from which to score, they reprieved Taunton who collected a maximum of five points while the Tykes earned only one for scoring four tries.

Leeds’ director of rugby Phil Davies wasn’t too disheartened by the defeat and was clear why his team lost.

“The weakness was our discipline. We gave away four of five penalties which resulted in tries and in second half we missed six or seven chances,” he said.

“But a lot of these things are fixable. We played with confidence, lots of enthusiasm and understanding.

“Our back three, Jukes, Robinson and Venables are potent. I thought our scrum went OK and our line-out worked quite nicely.

“This is a new team and a young one. Our hooker against Taunton, Jonty Mainey, is only 18. We have strong links with Leeds Becket University which is beneficial.

“How long I’ll be here who knows, but my aim is to put the Leeds rugby union team back into a position where people can be really proud of them again.”

Leeds Tykes: Venables, Robinson, Dixon, Williams, Jukes, Maxwell-Whiteley, Hardwick,Adamakin,Mainey, Valentine, Bell, Atkinson, Brady, Smith, O’Sullivan. Replacements: Campbell, Peace, Burke, Penney,Morgan.

Taunton Titans: Kingdom, Kitson, Fraser, Tarling, Struminski, Walsh, Maunder, Norton, Gosling, Dalton, Harvey,Leworthy, Vakalutukali, Wright, Prior.Replacements: Francis, Johnson, England, Oliphant-Thompson, Keay.

Referee: James O’Brien.