Davies feels the chill wind

Leicester 42 - Leeds 20
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The Independent Online

No one has said so at Headingley, any more than there is a whispering campaign, but it would be no surprise if Phil Davies felt he was living on borrowed time as Leeds' director of rugby.

Paul Caddick, the owner of both the Tykes and the Super League leaders, the Rhinos, could be close to losing his patience with Davies's union outfit, who finished one place above relegated Rotherham last season and have made a deeply unimpressive start to the new campaign.

In football, Premiership managers are sacked with the frequency of changes to the British weather, but rugby tends to be more understanding, even generous, to those who will never reach the top of the mountain.

But if Leicester can dismiss their icon, Dean Richards, midway through a season, Caddick might have few reservations about treating Davies in similar fashion if results do not improve soon.

It would have taken something akin to a miracle for the revival to have started at a packed Welford Road yesterday, though Leeds at least deserve some credit for defending stoutly.

Less commendable altogether, though, was the way they passed up two kickable penalty chances and opted instead for the line-out and drive. Each time they came away empty-handed. Gordon Ross did kick a penalty in first-half stoppage time, but by then the Tigers were 20 points ahead, thanks to tries from Martin Johnson and the newcomer Seru Rabeni. Andy Goode converted both scores and tagged on two penalties, and the Tigers were well on their way to what eventually turned into a routine victory.

Leeds threatened briefly to make life difficult for the hosts, with an amazing try by Tom Biggs. The diminutive winger chased down Ross's long kick more in hope than expectation. Instead of finding touch as Ross had intended, the ball stayed infield for Biggs to touch down.

That made it 20-10, but the comeback ended there as the Leeds second-row Chris Murphy was yellow-carded after a fracas. While he was serving his time, Leicester added a try through Harry Ellis and a penalty try, as Leeds collapsed a scrum while they were being driven across their own line. Ross had intervened with his second penalty and Jon Dunbar grabbed a late try, but Henry Tuilagi's try wrapped it up for Leicester.

It's too early to say if Leicester are championship material, though not too soon to predict that Leeds will find the season a massive struggle.

Leicester: G Murphy; A Healey, O Smith (A Tiulagi, 55), D Gibson, S Rabeni; A Goode, H Ellis (S Bemand, 54); G Rowntree (D Morris, 63), G Chuter, J White, M Johnson (capt), L Deacon, B Deacon (H Tuilagi, 62), M Corry, N Back.

Leeds: M Cardey; D Rees, C Bell (P Christophers, 48), A Snyman, T Biggs; G Ross, A Dickens (M McMillan, 72); M Cusack, M Regan, G Kerr, C Murphy, T Palmer (capt), P Uys (J Dunbar, 10-20; 65), A Popham, R Parks.

Referee: W Barnes (Twickenham).

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