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Leeds shine in Europe
Premiership strugglers through to Challenge Cup knockout phase
Posted Dec 21, 2010 by Jeff Dawson
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Leeds Carnegie are rubbish, right? They don’t have a chance of winning any competition or even any match, right? Well I would have answered yes to those questions based on their performances in the Aviva Premiership to date where they have played nine, lost nine and have just three points.
Yet in Europe they seem a completely different side and they are all but through through to the knockout phase of the Challenge Cup following the weekend’s 6-44 win over Crociati.
The team from Yorkshire sit second in the table with three wins from four and trail Stade Francais at the top by five points with two games to play. Leeds have scored 135 points in four matches and conceded just 43, the least in their group.
So why the massive difference between league and European form?
Well, it’s difficult to say really but there are a number of factors that could be going in their favour. Firstly, Bucuresti and Crociati, with all due respect, are nowhere near as good as the teams in the Premiership and Leeds have got one of the easier groups in the competition.
Secondly, there is little or no pressure on Leeds as elimination from the European competition, although financially disappointing, is nothing like the cost of relegation from the Premiership. If Leeds go down domestically, they may struggle to get back up where as if they stay up, they are guaranteed some form of European action next season.
And thirdly, they will want to maintain a level of pride and show that they are better than their Premierhsip form suggests.
So can they get out of trouble domestically? I doubt it. They are seven points of Newcastle in 11th and are yet to win. If they are going to avoid the drop they will need to pick up some much needed points quickly in the New Year. It looks as though it will be between those two and Sale, although Bath are slipping into the relegation dogfight too after a run of disappointing form.
I can’t see Leeds escaping but if a few results go their way then you never know.