Leeds belatedly find their sparkle

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Leeds were runaway winners by 68-28 against Workington in a clash between two teams who have struggled all season to make any impact in the Super League. They scored 12 tries against five to underline their superiority at Headingley.

But a Workington team heading for relegation fought hard for most of the game and, when they cut the arrears to 34-24 early in the second half, still had a distinct chance of saving the match. However Leeds finished the stronger, and with Workington making costly handling mistakes the Yorkshiremen were able to beat their previous best score of 48, at Workington in June, in Super League this season.

The holders and favourites, Australia, began their defence of the Halifax Students Rugby League World Cup with a 50-4 win over Wales at Leigh. The Australians led 34-0 after 28 minutes but Wales limited the damage with Dan Paley getting their only try before halftime. The Australian winger Adrian Suey scored a try and kicked seven goals on his way to being voted the man of the match.

Jason Critchley scored six tries in first division Keighley's 64-12 victory over Widnes - breaking the club record set by Ike Jagger in 1906 and equalled by Sam Stacey in 1907 and Nick Pinkney in the last two years.

Plans for an historic merger in West Yorkshire could be opposed by four former directors of one of the three clubs involved. A proposal for Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Batley to merge and form two new teams goes before the Rugby Football League board of directors today.

Under the suggested scheme, there would be a Super League side based at the McAlpine Stadium, with another centred on Batley and Dewsbury. But four ex-Batley directors yesterday issued a warning to the trio of first division clubs. The quartet of John Atkins, Andrew Winner, Ron Earnshaw and Richard Illingworth say they are shareholders and own at least 50 per cent of Batley Football Club.

Atkins, acting as spokesman for the group, said: "The four of us have not been consulted in any discussions and we are unanimous in our commitment to Batley Football Club's continuing existence at Mount Pleasant."

The merger plan comes up at a special general meeting of clubs at Central Park, Wigan, on Wednesday which has been called to discuss the future allocation of News Corporation money. And depending on the response to the initiative, it could be put to the vote at the next RL Council meeting on 11 September.

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