'General' Ross takes command

Harlequins 9 Leeds 16
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The Independent Online

It was back to the day job for England's World Cup-winners at The Stoop Memorial Ground, although Mark Regan, Will Greenwood and Jason Leonard did receive a standing ovation during half-time when they, and the England coach, Clive Woodward, congregated in the middle of the pitch to acknowledge the crowd.

However, for Leonard and Regan it was a brief interlude from bench duty and the problems facing their respective teams. Neither side could manage to impose any real structure on the match, although the wet and blustery conditions were a hindrance.

Still, once Woodward was safely ensconced back in the hospitality box, he would have winced with every dropped pass and fumble, basic mistakes that he lamented in last week's final. And one player that he was probably there to watch, Dan Scarbrough, did little to suggest he was a full-back to fast-track when he positively sought out the opposition full-back when one-on-one rather than sprinting for the corner, and again when he just failed to find the try-line after a bullocking run by the hard-working Tykes captain, Mike Shelley.

Indeed, the player who excelled was the Scottish World Cup participant, Gordon Ross. "Our little general," according to his coach, Phil Davies, although he did add, "at times you have to put your arm round him and at others you have to put your size 12 up his bum."

He scored all Tykes' points including the only try of the match in the 57th minute when a dummy runner checked Ben Willis and distracted him from his defensive duty of taking the first man, in this case Ross. The gap widened and the diminutive fly-half scooted through it to the line to give the Tykes a 13-6 lead.

This was enough to warrant the arrival of Leonard proper - cue more cheers - and, a few minutes later, Regan. Disappointingly for the crowd of 7,123 Leonard did not charge the length of the pitch like a superhero, but he added power to Quins' scrum and they will rue the fact that they spent the majority of the last quarter in the Leeds 22 and yet only scored three points, a penalty in the 69th minute cancelled out four minutes later by Ross.

"I've gone through the video and we were refereed out of the game," said Mike Scott, the Harlequins manager, and he may have had a point during the final minutes when the Tykes conceded six penalties close to their line without a player being sent to the sin-bin. A converted try would have salvaged a draw, but the resilience of the Tykes defence was admirable.

Harlequins: Penalties Dunne 3. Leeds: Try Ross; Conversion Ross; Penalties Ross 3.

Harlequins: G Duffy (J Taumalolo, 69); S Keogh, C Bell, M Deane, U Monye; A Dunne, B Willis; M Worsley (Jones, h-t), A Tiatia, J Dawson (J Leonard, 58) , B Davison (K Rudzki, 58), J Evans, P Sanderson, A Vos (capt), A Diprose.

Leeds: D Scarbrough; D Rees, A Snyman, T Davies, D Albanese; G Ross, C Stuart-Smith; M Shelley (capt), M Holt (M Regan, 61), G Powell, S Morgan (M Stockdale, 66), P Murphy (S Hooper, 61), A Persico, A Popham, J Ponton.

Referee: S Davey ( Horsham).