Planet Rugby

Leeds win at last

12th October 2007 22:00

Share:

Alberto De Bernardo Alberto Di Bernardo Thinus Delport

Di Bernardo halts the rampaging Delport

Leeds claimed their first Guinness Premiership victory of the season with a tense 26-21 success over Worcester at Headingley Carnegie on Friday.

Defeat for the Warriors means they are now leapfrogged by the Yorkshire side, leaving European champions Wasps at the bottom until Sunday at least.

Leeds were boosted by the return of fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo from injury, who kicked eleven vital points on the night.

Argentinian Di Bernardo, who proved himself to be the best fly-half in National League One last term with Cornish Pirates, had missed the last three games due to a hand injury sustained on his Leeds debut against Gloucester last month.

But on his return, the number ten's educated boot and playmaking skills guided Leeds around the field, something they've missed in his absence.

In addition to landing two drop-goals, a penalty and a conversion, the 27-year-old produced a delightful piece of skill which handed captain Stuart Hooper the crucial opening try on the stroke of half-time.

Outside centre Jonny Hepworth eclipsed Di Bernardo shortly before the hour mark, though, collecting possession on the edge of his own 22 before embarking on an exhilarating run that saw him outstrip the visiting defence and cross the line for a brilliant individual effort.

And when full-back Jon Goodridge capitalised on a dreadful error from the Worcester back line to touch down for a third try in the 64th minute, Leeds were left to celebrate their first Premiership win since they beat the same opponents 21-15 on February 24, 2006.

That Leeds have found life tough back in the top flight is undeniable, and they were forced to live on their nerves when Worcester claimed two tries in the final two minutes to cut the gap to five points.

But they held on for a crucial success which was rapturously received on all four sides of Headingley and will ultimately pour confidence into Stuart Lancaster's men.

Having gone agonisingly close to registering victory at Newcastle last week, losing 21-19 despite leading 19-18 in the closing stages of the game, this victory suggested Leeds are slowly acclimatising the demands of the Premiership.

Beating a second-bottom Worcester at home was a must for Leeds - even at this early stage in the season - and they did not disappoint.

Warriors full-back Shane Drahm set the tone for a disjointed display from the visitors when he skewed an attempted drop-goal wide of the posts.

However, in the fifth minute he got Worcester off the mark with a penalty and Leeds' hopes suffered another blow in the 13th minute when Hooper's late and high-tackle on Drahm earned him a place in the sin-bin.

Yet Di Bernardo was already beginning to exert his authority on proceedings with a stream of probing kicks that gave Leeds the field position from which to build.

And in the 20th minute Leeds number-eight Mark Lock fed the fly-half from a scrum and Di Bernardo executed a drop-goal from 25 metres to draw his side level.

Three minutes later, an excellent penalty goal edged the hosts 6-3 ahead, but he then erred with another penalty and a drop-goal attempt.

And in the 40th minute, he showed brilliant technique to chip forward and race on to collect his own kick ahead of Drahm before spotting Hooper racing alongside him in support.

A sublime offload allowed the Leeds skipper to touch down but Drahm had the final say of the first half when he landed a penalty moments later.

The Worcester kicker cut the gap further by adding another penalty in the 53rd minute but Hepworth's outstanding effort gave Leeds some much-needed respite.

And Goodridge's try six minutes later proved vital - Di Bernardo failed with both conversion attempts - when Loki Crichton scuttled over with just ten minutes remaining.

Leeds then lost hooker Rob Rawlinson to the sin-bin in the closing stages and were under the cosh when Ryan Powell crossed for a try, which Drahm converted to give Worcester a losing bonus-point.

The scorers:

For Leeds:

Tries: Hooper, Hepworth, Goodridge

Con: Di Bernardo

Pen: Di Bernardo

Drop goals: Di Bernardo 2

For Worcester:

Tries: Crichton, R Powell

Con: Drahm

Pens: Drahm 3

Yellow cards: Hooper (Leeds, 12 mins), Rawlinson (Leeds, 76 mins)

Leeds: 15 Jon Goodridge, 14 Leigh Hinton, 13 Jonny Hepworth, 12 Lee Blackett, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Joe Bedford, 8 Mark Lock, 7 Calum Clark, 6 Rhys Oakley, 5 Stuart Hooper (c), 4 Erik Lund, 3 Colin Noon, 2 Vili Ma'asi, 1 Fosi Pala'amo.

Replacements: 16 Michael Cusack, 17 Rob Rawlinson, 18 Tommy McGee, 19 Kearnan Myall, 20 James Brooks, 21 Richard Welding, 22 John Holtby.

Worcester: 15 Shane Drahm, 14 Thinus Delport, 13 Dale Rasmussen, 12 Mark Tucker, 11 Marcel Garvey, 10 James Brown, 9 Matt Powell, 8 Kai Horstmann, 7 Pat Sanderson (c), 6 Drew Hickey, 5 Craig Gillies, 4 Phil Murphy, 3 Chris Horsman, 2 Chris Fortey, 1 Tony Windo.

Replacements: 16 Darren Morris, 17 Tevita Taumoepeau, 18 Aleki Lutui, 19 Will Bowley, 20 Gavin Quinnell, 21 Ryan Powell, 22 Loki Crichton.

Referee: Rob Debney

Touch judges: Steve Terheege, Alan Hughes

Television match official: David Hudson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Heineken Cup
Saturday , April 26
Saracens vs Clermont Auvergne15:40
More Heineken Cup fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 26
Glasgow vs Edinburgh19:05
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs Reds19:35
Western Force vs Bulls17:40
Cheetahs vs Stormers17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 20
Northampton 36 - 21 London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Report
Newcastle 18 - 23 SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Cardiff Blues 17 - 13 ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Report
Newport Gwent D'gons 10 - 20 Ospreys
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Bath 32 - 20 WorcesterBath vs Worcester Report
Exeter 12 - 55 SaleExeter vs Sale Report
Wasps 38 - 30 GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Zebre 26 - 13 EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Report
Connacht 23 - 32 MunsterConnacht vs Munster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Oyonnax 19 - 19 ToulouseOyonnax vs Toulouse Report
Biarritz 19 - 13 Brive
Perpignan 31 - 46 ToulonPerpignan vs Toulon Report
Racing Metro Paris 22 - 6 Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Stade Francais 37 - 23 Bordeaux-Begles
Grenoble 21 - 21 Bayonne
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Castres 22 - 15 MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens2080
2Northampton2071
3Bath2064
4Leicester Tigers2064
5Harlequins2058