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Seconds out!


Comeback time.

By Haxbytyke
March 3 2012

So, having completed the regular league season, (which, to all intents and purposes was meaningless), the Championship moves onto the second phase of the campaign. At the end of this round of games, two teams from each group will go into a knock-out competition to decide which teams will contest the final, and, if Bristol or Leeds should emerge triumphant from that, then they will be playing their rugby in the Premiership next season.

It seems ridiculous to me that Bristol, having finished top of the league do not gain automatic promotion, but as every team knew at the beginning of the season, a top 8 finish would give them a shot at winning the title, even though 6 of the 8 teams would be unable to join the elite at the top table were they successful. It is also worth pointing out that a team could win 31 of its 32 games and not be promoted, whereas they could also win as few as 14 of those games and be crowned champions. Where is the justice in that?

The Championship is, as far as I know, the only league beneath the Premiership that incorporates a play off system, and while I don’t agree with it, at least it gives Leeds a chance to put some of their inconsistency behind them and press for promotion again.

By virtue of finishing top, Bristol will be favourites, but they are the only team who have previously failed to win promotion from the Championship after finishing top of the league. This will no doubt be at the back of their minds as they attempt to win the title, and this will give their opponents hope.

Leeds ended up 14 points adrift of both Bedford and the Pirates, and many will see this as too big a hurdle for our heroes to clear. However, as has been pointed out elsewhere, our league record against our play off opponents was good, and a repeat of those results will be good enough to get us through into the semi finals.

If we can do that, then it is cup rugby, bonus points will be irrelevant, and winning close games, as we have done most of the season will see us through.

I think 20 points from the play off group will be enough to guarantee a semi final spot, 18 could well be. If Leeds can win their 3 home games, that will give them a good chance, and as they have beaten all of our play off opponents at Headingley already this season, that should be well within their capabilities.

As for who will pull on the shirt to take us any further, we can only speculate. Key players, like Mike MacDonald and Danny Paul are injured, but both would be welcome back to strengthen a pack, which has a lot of experience and versatility about it. Even though the forwards haven’t often looked the finished article, there is a good blend of experience and youth in every position, and Diccon Edwards is going to have a lot of head scratching to do before he names his forwards.

It is in the backs where Leeds lacks strength in depth. All season the fans have been critical of the lack of cover in the key positions of 10 and 12, and we can only hope this does not come back to haunt us now.

For me, the two key players will be Will Cliff and Tommy Bell. It is inconceivable that the point’s machine will not play, and with Stevie McColl making his return from injury at full back, Bell will probably revert to his natural position of fly half, while Cliff seems the type of player who can adapt his game according to the conditions.

Stephenson and Blackett on the wings, and that leaves the two centre slots to be filled. Iain Thornley began the season like an express train, scoring tries seemingly at will, but he hasn’t looked as sharp recently, and maybe Jordan Davies has done enough from the bench to pinch his shirt. That just leaves the number 12 shirt to fill. We haven’t much choice, but if he was fit, I’d want to see Lachy Mackay prove to everybody what a class act he is. Failing that, I’d have to go for Scott Barrow.

So, a long trip to Cornwall to start with isn’t ideal, but it gets the travelling out of the way, and I’d settle for a losing bonus point if we can’t get the win. With two home games to follow, we could be well placed by the half way stage of the mini league.

I’m sure it won’t be pretty at times, and Bedford, Pirates, and our neighbours at Rotherham will all want to put a spanner in the works.

However, I have not seen any team who cannot be beaten this season and now is the time for Leeds to prove they can move into the next stage. I think they can, and will feature in the semi finals. Get that far, and then we’ll worry about what happens next.

It is up to the fans to get behind them as well, and I hope even those who don’t want promotion will support the team until the end. After all, you can’t support a team and want it to lose, can you?

COME ON LEEDS

 
 
 
 
 
 

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3 Mar, 2012 10:43 Report
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Seconds out!
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:03:10:17:07:52 by WildWillie .

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3 Mar, 2012 10:48 Report
Wildwillie (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
I will believe in Fulton's comeback when I see it.

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3 Mar, 2012 11:09 Report
almostatyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Good piece WW.
You are right to highlight the connundrum for people like me, who think that any promoted Championship club will be slaughtered next season, and do not look forward particularly to watching 20+ point Premiership drubbings.
Nevertheless better to try and fail than not try in the first place so GOOD LUCK TO THE LADS!

I wasn't born in Yorkshire, but I got here as soon as I could

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3 Mar, 2012 11:10 Report
Mark_C (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
A good write-up but"It is up to the fans to get behind them as well, and I hope even those who donít want promotion will support the team until the end. After all, you canít support a team and want it to lose, can you?" I think is an unfortunate choice of words, sorry.

As for Mackay playing, I'm afraid my opinion is that the play-offs is not the place to ease him into the side after so long out. He may be good, but I don't believe he's that good.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:03:03:11:21:44 by Mark_C.

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3 Mar, 2012 11:38 Report
Wildwillie (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Quote:
almostatyke
Good piece WW.
You are right to highlight the connundrum for people like me, who think that any promoted Championship club will be slaughtered next season, and do not look forward particularly to watching 20+ point Premiership drubbings.
Nevertheless better to try and fail than not try in the first place so GOOD LUCK TO THE LADS!

Credit must go to Haxbytyke, I just published it! (Sm134)

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3 Mar, 2012 12:13 Report
Lazyboy346 (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Just a thought from an Irish fan (who wants to see you lot back again - favourite away games)

Despite the crazy system of the play-offs to get promoted, neither team who has gone back up has been relegated so far and definitely not in their first season back. Worcester look safe this year and Exeter thrived.

Perhaps the sheer number of close and high pressure games played in the play-offs helps ready the promoted team for the tough and close games that they are going to experience in the Premiership.

Good luck and hopefully see you all next year

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3 Mar, 2012 13:01 Report
Gelbel (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Nice one Haxby. It's going to be interesting to see how this pans out. I jsut wish I was about to see more of the play-off matches.

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3 Mar, 2012 13:14 Report
SoopaLeeds (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Good report Hax

(Sm128)

I'm not sure your choice of words is unfortunate, I think you're right - everyone has to bury whatever concerns or fears they are carrying and get behind the team 100% for this play-off battle.

(Sm137)

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3 Mar, 2012 13:27 Report
Mark_C (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Like our opinions on promotion I'll beg to differ with some of you. That won't stop me from cheering myself hoarse next Saturday!

(Sm128)

(Sm152) (Sm152) (Sm152)

And perhaps my spoting ideals are a little more Corinthian than others, as is my expectation of value for money.

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3 Mar, 2012 13:52 Report
SoopaLeeds (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Is this not the right board for an argument Mark?

(Sm115)

(Sm128)

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3 Mar, 2012 18:28 Report
Bran (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
good report, and I hope we go all the way, can't see it happening though.
At this late stage, you would think Leeds rugby might devouldge the likleyhood of any players being fit wouldn't you? Rumour had it Mckay was oing to attempt to run last week. That for me is news worthy. Or has his Hamstring poped like Tony dorego's used to at the first sign of work?

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3 Mar, 2012 20:54 Report
almostatyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Good post Hax!

I wasn't born in Yorkshire, but I got here as soon as I could

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4 Mar, 2012 13:00 Report
Timofe (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
A few of my pointless opinions:

Mackay shouldn't get anywhere near the team for the playoffs - no offence to the man, but playing a player who has been absent all season in front of match-fit players is suicidal, nomatter who they are.

I'd start with Kirsty at 15, Davies and Thornley at 12 & 13; Bell at 10. I'd have Blackett on the bench to come on for either Kirsty, Stevo or Lucock, as required.

Cliff at scrum-half and a back row of Williamson, Walker and Rowan. Locks of Hohneck and Burrows (or Dents, if fit) and front row of Nilsen, Beast and Aulika (obviously Big Mac instead, if fit). Lockwood on the bench.

Controversially, I left Titts out of the team deliberately, as I don't think they play as well with him on the pitch.


On the topic of the playoffs, I would agree with you that the top team should be promoted if the RFU had sprung the playoffs on the teams at the last minute, but they didn't. The purpose of the regular season is to assign places in the playoffs, not to gain promotion. Hence your argument isn't really relevant, if teams were trying to get a position there, rather than to win the league.

If I was Diccon, I would be saving my team to play well at this point in the season, not thrashing them throughout it. The best of Leeds is yet to come.


As for promotion meaning automatic relegation, let's get there first shall we? The prospect of a Premiership team will be a lot more appealing than a Championship team for sponsors and players alike, so who knows what benefits promotion may bring to the playoff-winning team?

Riding the Leeds roller-coaster since 2001

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4 Mar, 2012 15:08 Report
Bittern (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Quote:
Timofe
A few of my pointless opinions:
Mackay shouldn't get anywhere near the team for the playoffs - no offence to the man, but playing a player who has been absent all season in front of match-fit players is suicidal, nomatter who they are.

I'd start with Kirsty at 15, Davies and Thornley at 12 & 13; Bell at 10. I'd have Blackett on the bench to come on for either Kirsty, Stevo or Lucock, as required.

Cliff at scrum-half and a back row of Williamson, Walker and Rowan. Locks of Hohneck and Burrows (or Dents, if fit) and front row of Nilsen, Beast and Aulika (obviously Big Mac instead, if fit). Lockwood on the bench.


OK I will point out the obvious:-

1. Burrows is not a lock
2. Hohneck is injured
3. Walker (and probably Bell) will be away with Under 20's and will miss first two play off games.

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4 Mar, 2012 16:22 Report
SoopaLeeds (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Certainly NOT pointless opinions Tim, you may join my exclusive band of posters who purvey fine opinions. Well mostly.

I say this because I mostly agree with you. I still don't rate Hoeneck, especially as he's injured.

(Sm126)(Sm128)

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4 Mar, 2012 17:01 Report
Mark_C (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
At the end of the day it's quite simple. We had 1900 paying punters through the gate for the Esher game. We need at least another 5k to be anywhere near a viable Premiership side. People pay to be entertained, getting trunked by 50 points at home to Gloucester on the opening day of the season isn't going to get new punters to return. And potential new fans don't want to hear tales of RFU money going to pay-off past mistakes.

I want solid foundations to build the next attempt at the Premiership with. Maybe to some of you that means quick death if we have no funding. But promotion to the Premiership next season without massive investment in the team is slow strangulation. You won't bring in a new crowd, and you'll slowly drive away what's left of the regulars.

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4 Mar, 2012 17:27 Report
almostatyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Mark,
The question is - are you going to cheer the opposition then?

I wasn't born in Yorkshire, but I got here as soon as I could

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4 Mar, 2012 17:32 Report
Mark_C (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Why not come down to Penzance and find out.

Given that I have missed only two home league games in ten years I have to say that I am disappointed that anybody on here, stayaways and johnny-come-latelies included, doubt my support for the team. Sometimes I think it's better to look over the hill a bit.

My opinions are based on the FACT that we need to attract NEW SUPPORT, not just try to hang on to what we've already got.

Comprendo?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2012:03:04:18:00:10 by Mark_C.

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4 Mar, 2012 18:22 Report
SoopaLeeds (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
our average attendance last season?

5500

we do get the crowds in the Premiership compared to the Championship.

I, for one, would never question your support for the team BTW Mark.

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4 Mar, 2012 18:25 Report
almostatyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Mark,
Sorry to hit a nerve but I am of the same view as you and share the same connundrum of wanting to win but being frightened of what it all might mean. Hope you have an enjoyable and rewarding trip on Saturday. As a Johnny come lately I admire and would never question your loyalty.

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4 Mar, 2012 18:30 Report
SoopaLeeds (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Its worth giving people some financial information on this matter:

7,000 paying customers at an average of £15 a game (concessions, juniors bring down the average price paid), paying for 15 games a season (11 league games plus cup) raise £1.575 million.
Premiership membership raises £2.6M.

I think crowd considerations come second to top flight rugby if its finance for the team you're concerned about.

(Sm154)

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4 Mar, 2012 18:32 Report
Timofe (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
1) Burrows is listed as a second row / back row and improves the team when he plays, hence my shoehorning him in.

2) Fair point, but we're short of second rows who are not, so Penders instead.

3) I know and it scares the Hell out of me! I chose them for the duration of the playoffs - the "core" team, if you will. Did Bell play this weekend? If he's bench-warming waiting for George to hurt himself he'd be better off playing for us.

Riding the Leeds roller-coaster since 2001

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4 Mar, 2012 18:40 Report
Mark_C (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Soops, don't disagree with your figures, but what sort of players are we likely to attract who will want to play in front of a 75% empty stadium?

Almostatyke, as Soops will testify I'll have great fun arguing my points of view with you. All I ask is please don't question my commitment. We all support, but in a myriad of ways. Enjoy!
(Sm128)

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4 Mar, 2012 20:36 Report
ellishicks (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Next year will be my 10th ST (and I've missed 2 home games)- I even enjoy some of the cup games that have the feeling of a family outing (so sparsely attended). But I don't want to be in the championship next season.
Top 8 Play offs always sounded a silly idea and now I know that some of the games are far less appealing than A team matches that are regularly good contests on a Monday night. It would be bad enough spending half the season in a fairly pointless league but waiting until now for the real games to begin is futility.

It would be easy to have promoted the top team and play off for the second promotion spot. Ah but 2 teams would have had to come down (how about 3 to go up and 3 come down?) Oh.. only 2 teams it seems can qualify to go up. The Championship has a severe identity crisis, because it's neither fish nor fowl and only Bedford so far as I can tell want to be in it.

Falcons deserve to go down this time on their displays for the past 2 years - but what if Wasps were to go down? They would face oblivion. How can the current set up serve the interests of English rugby?
The other point about staying in the Championship seems entirely academic. We all play to win but unlike the others (apart from Bris) we have to go up if we win.

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4 Mar, 2012 20:49 Report
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Re: Seconds out!
I find it somewhat disappointing that holding the view that a return to the Premiership at any price next season is not necessarily the best thing for the club should be viewed as lacking commitment or even being in some way disloyal.

I have turned up to the great majority of home games for the last 10 or 11 seasons. I have also been away more often than my wallet or liver would consider sensible. Every time I spectate I hope that Leeds will win. I am not so blind or stupid, however, to deny the evidence of my own eyes and expect that this is the most likely outcome.

So, do I still believe that we will have an extremely tough time if somehow we managed to spawn our way back into the Premiership? Yes. Will I be going to as many of the remaining matches this season and shouting for Leeds? Yes. Will I be turning up next season wherever we are? Yes. If some still find these statements difficult to square then I'm afraid that's their problem.

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4 Mar, 2012 21:20 Report
Haxbytyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Mark and Newty, I never doubted that loyal supporters would give 100% backing to the team. My comments were an attempt to get a response from those who didn't think promotion was the best result for Leeds Carnegie. I fully respect everyone's opinion. and their reasoning, and I am glad, that having written the article, it has created a lively debate.

COME ON LEEDS.
We've been through it all together.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2012:03:04:21:24:53 by Haxbytyke.

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4 Mar, 2012 22:31 Report
leemingtyke (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
As a new supporter I perhaps havent got the depth of knowledge of some of you guys but it seems to me that we will be financially better off in the premiership, should be able to keep hold of our best players and maybe attract a few more and will also stand a better chance of attracting new supporters.
Who knows, we may even surprise a few people, win a few games and stay up.

Come on Leeds!

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5 Mar, 2012 15:04 Report
Timofe (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
LT: Don't assume you haven't got he depth of knowledge, just because you're a new supporter - those of us who had it are losing it! smiling smiley

Welcome to board and feel free to help us old curmudgeoners cheer up a bit.

Riding the Leeds roller-coaster since 2001

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5 Mar, 2012 23:06 Report
Timofe (IP Logged)
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Re: Seconds out!
Big Mac has tweeted that he's out of his cast today. Will he make it back before the playoffs are over?

Riding the Leeds roller-coaster since 2001

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