Warning bells for Leeds coach

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The Independent Online
Leeds 18 Halifax 32

Halifax won their first match in Super League at the eighth attempt, leaving a thick pall of disillusionment over their West Yorkshire partners in distress.

Leeds were destroyed by conceding three tries in the 11 minutes immediately after half-time. It was Halifax, after a tough mid-week match against Wigan, who should have faltered, but Leeds gave them an open invitation to turn around their disappointing season.

Halifax had been only marginally the better of the two sides which had shown in a scrappy first half just why they were at the wrong end of the table. When they put some fluent rugby together after the break, with their effervescent young scrum-half, Craig Dean, and their not-so-young prop, Karl Harrison, prominent, Leeds had no answer.

Harrison's excellent short pass out of the tackle to Mark Perrett set up Dean for one try - his second - and then more sustained attacking play saw Paul Rowley drive over from dummy-half.

When Mike Umaga's break sent John Bentley in for another try, Leeds' heads were firmly down, and the first concerted jeering and chanting of Dean Bell's regime as coach had started.

"I'm pretty embarrassed about it," he said of his side's efforts. "We talked about it before the match and at half-time, but we still seemed to lack desire. Believe me, if I could make changes, I would."

The most essential need of all, though, is a change of attitude. There was a defining Headingley moment in the first half when Leeds' newest recruit, Dean Clark, made a half-break and turned to look for someone capable of continuing the move. He was faced with an arc of team-mates looking at him quizzically as if to ask: "Is this something to do with us?"

Until scenes like that become a grim and distant memory, Leeds will continue to struggle.

Halifax, on the other hand, clearly felt as though a great weight had been lifted off them. Leading by four points at half-time, they showed the determination to put things right that was so lacking in Leeds' demeanour.

Having stretched that lead to 20, there was never any way that they were going to let go, although Mick Shaw did grab a token score for Leeds five minutes from time.

Leeds: Gibbons, Fallon, Iro, Cummins, Hassan, Holroyd, Clark, Harmon, Newton, McDermott, Mercer, Morley, Forshaw. Substitutes used: Hall, Shaw, Fozzard, Mann.

Halifax: Amone, Bentley, Schuster, Hallas, Ekoku, Umaga, Dean, Harrison, Rowley, Marshall, Perrett, Gillespie, Baldwin. Substitutes used: Ketteridge, James, Highton, Seal.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

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