Rugby League: Leeds under shadow

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The Independent Online
Wakefield. . 57

Leeds. . . . 14

HOW times change. It has been 10 years since Wakefield last conceded a Saturday defeat to a Yorkshire club at College Grove. The victors on Christmas Eve 1983 were Headingley, with a newly capped Peter Winterbottom leading by example in a 22-3 triumph.

Subsequently Wakefield have lost at home only twice to fellow Tykes - when fielding scratch sides in midweek matches - against Sandal and Halifax in 1984.

Nowadays Wakefield rule the roost on their own patch and Headingley - who tormented them throughout the 1980s by lifting the Yorkshire Cup six times in seven seasons - have gone into business with Roundhay to form Leeds.

It has been a merger of convenience which will only satisfy the shareholders once the two clubs sell their grounds and begin afresh with a purpose-built stadium elsewhere. There are hopes this will happen by Easter.

Until then, Leeds will remain an impoverished shadow of the Headingley or Roundhay teams of relatively recent vintage and face an uphill battle to climb away from the nether regions of the Fourth Division where they languish two points above the relegation cut.

Wakefield's problems are of a different kind. They share a sports complex, where hockey plays a big part and no one can visualise them joining the elite until they acquire a ground of their own. However, the wealth of talent at Wakefield's disposal is the envy of clubs throughout the north and, as they will have home advantage against all three of those above them in National League Two, elevation to the top flight is not beyond reach.

Leading the queue for a regular first-team place, in an entertaining, if at times erratically refereed match, was Andy Sleightholme. The brother of the England Under-21 winger Jon, the younger Sleightholme marked his debut with a hat-trick. Kerry Morley on the other wing followed suit.

Their time is sure to come. Leeds, outclassed and overrun, must wait a little longer.

Wakefield: Tries Sleightholme 3, Morley 3, Croft, Metcalfe, Cowling; Conversions Cowling 6. Leeds: Tries Lineham, G Thomas. Conversions: Eddie.

Wakefield: R Thompson; A Sleightholme, P Maynard (M Jackson, 40), A Metcalfe, K Morley; S Cowling, M Cawthorne; A Day, S Cruise, R Burman (capt), S Croft, D Falkingham, M Price, K Yates, M Rawnsley.

Leeds: J Eagle; S Lancaster, D Eddie, W Hartley, C Thornton; D Lowther, G Cassidy; J Wright, N Lineham (R Woolaston, 43), P McCarthy, G Thomas, T Thomas, M Freer, N Hargreaves (capt), I Moule.

Referee: G Hatton (Manchester).

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