Leeds complete Italian job to delight Davies

Leeds 33 Calvisano 16
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The Independent Online

With a search to find a replacement coach for Phil Davies, who is stepping down as director of rugby, the outlook for the Yorkshire club is still at best unpredictable. They failed utterly to convince against a game Calvisano outfit who were eventually outmuscled, though never outplayed by the Tykes.

Despite a mediocre performance, though, the departing Davies was pleased, describing the game as a "defining moment" for the club."It's been an interesting week for us," he said.

"We've got a base to work on and the appointment could be made within a week, six weeks or seven months - I don't know.

"But at the end of the day I'm still in charge until that appointment is made and we will move forward."

Despite Davies' brave words, this was a fairly drab effort, especially as Calvisano, having won away once since they entered the Heineken Cup, and without a victory in the two most recent seasons, were there for the taking.

Leeds started well enough. But after Gordon Ross slotted two early penalties, all the frailties reappeared, the Tykes' line-out was a shambles, at the tackle area they were often second best and they trailed by a point at the interval.

First to strike for the Italians was their South African outside-half, Herkules Kruger, who banged over a penalty, and was prominent throughout.

Leeds raised themselves for an isolated assault on the Calvisano line and, although Tim Stimpson was held short of the line, they had built enough momentum for Rob Rawlinson to scramble across.

But the home defence was left flat-footed by Kruger's deft chip. Apenise Tuta-Vodo collected it to put the full back, Jacobus van Schalkwyk, over for a stunning try. Kruger converted and added a penalty, and an upset looked possible.

The likelihood receded when Leeds at last strung together a series of passes. Nathan Thomas made the initial incision, Justin Marshall took it on for Tom Biggs to pop a one-handed pass to Tom Palmer for the lock to cross. Ross converted to give Leeds some breathing space at 18-13.

But Calvisano were not done. Kruger drilled over a third penalty, as did Ross, but tries by Rayno Gerber and Stimpson earned Leeds a bonus point and a very hard-earned victory.

Leeds: Tries: Rawlinson, Palmer, Dunbar, Stimpson; Conversions: Ross 2; Pens: Ross 3.

Calvisano: Try: Vian-Schalkwyk. Conversion: Kruger; Penalties: Kruger 3.

Leeds: Stimpson, Rees (Doherty, 55), Vickerman, Snyman, Biggs, Ross (De Maringey, 79), Marshall (McMillan, 79), Kerr (Isaacson, 71), Rawlinson (Bulloch, 55), Gerber, Murphy (Morgan, 71), Palmer, Hyde (Dunbar, 55), Parks, Thomas.

Calvisano: Vian-Schalkwyk, Nitoglia, Vaccari, Zanoletti, Tuta-Vodo (Mulieri. 77), Kruger, Griffen, Bocca (de Carli, 65), Moretti (Ghiraldini 51), M. Castrogiovanni, Ngauamo, Purll, Zaffri, Mandelli (Bernabo, 55), Zanni.

Referee: E Darriere (P Gauzere 16, both France).