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Leeds’ late show downs Saracens

03 Nov 2002
Leeds’ late show downs Saracens

It was a far from perfect performance from coach Phil Davies’ men, with the Yorkshiremen coming off a distinct second best in the first half against a pumped-up Saracens attack, but it was well-deserved victory in the final analysis.

As so often before this season, it was former Springbok Braam van Straaten who was the key figure in the Leeds backline, the centre kicking 14 points in the victory as he helped inspire an impressive second half comeback.

Despite an early penalty from Van Straaten, it was Saracens – whose head coach Wayne Shelford had tagged this contest a ‘must-win’ game – who looked more effective in the opening stages of the match, flanker Richard Hill crashing over for a try in the seventh minute.

The England man had to run 30 metres for his five-pointer after taking a scoring pass from team-mate Darragh O’Mahony.

Saracens’ second try came in the 21st minute when an excellent series of forward drives saw French international Christian Califano going over. With Andy Goode adding the conversion, the visitors had seized the initiative.

But Leeds came back with a great individual try of their own, Gordon Ross bewitching the Saracens defence to score under the posts, thus setting up an easy conversion for Van Straaten.

Two penalties from Andy Goode put Saracens 18-10 up at half-time and the visitors looked likely to be cruising for a badly-needed victory.

But after a stalemate for much of the third quarter, Leeds suddenly sprang into action to end Sarries’ aspirations.

Three successive penalties from Van Straaten saw the Tykes take a 19-10 lead and then in the 77th minute, wing Chris Hall showed great pace and balance to land a decisive blow with a try.

With Ross snapping over a drop goal deep in injury time, Saracens found themselves staring down the barrel of defeat once more.

The scorers:

For Leeds Tykes:Tries: Hall, RossCons: Van StraatenPens: Van Straaten (4)Drop-goal: Ross

For Saracens:Tries: Califano, HillCons: GoodePens: Goode (2)

For more news, try out Yorkshire Carnegie v Saracens

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