Leeds' misery is completed

Rugby League: Halifax 64 Leeds 24
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A miserable season ended miserably for Leeds as a team including seven teenagers was overpowered and overrun.

If Leeds were looking for any consolation at the end of a campaign which has brought them just six victories, they should have been looking yesterday towards Featherstone, where their Academy team won the championship despite a number of eligible players on first-team duty.

The best that can be said is that players such as Gavin Brown, who played with particular enthusiasm at scrum-half, have plenty of potential for improvement. Heaven knows Leeds, possibly under new ownership by then, need to improve next season, if they are not to make their decline irreversible.

They twice took the lead in the first quarter, both times through tries from Mike Forshaw. But they were suckers for simple moves down the blind- side of the scrum, Martin Moana setting up tries for Craig Dean and John Bentley, with Mike Umaga also grabbing a try as Halifax embarked on a spree of 46 points without reply.

Bentley went on to score four tries against his former club before being sent to the sin-bin with Leeds' Mick Shaw in the last minute, but the dominant flavour, as ever when Halifax play to their best, was that of the South Pacific.

Umaga and Asa Amone were always too hard to hold for Leeds, and with Moana and John Schuster available to link with Halifax' numerous extravagant handling moves, there was little respite for Leeds.

They staged a rally of sorts with tries from Phil Hassan and Shaw, but the home side had the last word with scores from Amone and Bentley's fourth, with Schuster adding his 10th goal from 11 attempts.

The question they have to ask themselves is what sort of season they could have had with a tolerable start. They can at least look at Leeds and know that it could have been far, far worse.

Halifax: Umaga; Bentley, Schuster, Amone, Ekoku; Brewer, Dean; Harrison, Rowley, Anderson, Highton, Baldwin, Moana. Substitutes used: Tuigali, Gillespie, Bastian, Jackson.

Leeds: St Hilaire; Golden, Iro, Hassan, Rivett; Holroyd, Brown; Field, Shaw, McDermott, Newton, Morley, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Handley, Schultz, Faimalo.

Referee: G Shaw (Dewsbury).