Lancaster takes positives from defeat
October 26, 2007
Leeds director of rugby Stuart Lancaster refused to be downbeat after his side were subjected to a 46-28 home defeat at the hands of Saracens in the EDF Energy Cup.
Last month Saracens totally outclassed Leeds 31-7 at Headingley in the Guinness Premiership and the gulf in quality was again graphically illustrated at times.
Here Saracens outscored Leeds by six tries to four but, in truth, staving off the threat of relegation is all that matters this season for Lancaster and his players.
And there plenty of positive signs from which Lancaster could draw encouragement as centre Andy Tuilagi enjoyed an impressive first start of the season and Fijian international Apolosi Satala made a try-scoring debut on the wing.
``There are lots of positives to take from it,'' said Lancaster, whose side's four-try haul earned them a bonus point.
``I thought lots of our play was good and at the level that it needs to be.
``But obviously we cannot keep gifting soft scores away because at this level you will get hurt.
``I'm disappointed for the players because the spirit is strong, but that's Leeds for you.''
Indeed, the Yorkshiremen largely matched Sarries in the first half and only trailed by five points at the break.
But the visitors then cut loose with five tries from Rodd Penney, Craig McMullen, Ed Thrower, Moses Rauluni and Kevin Sorrell to add to Penney's first-half opener.
Former Leeds fly-half Gordon Ross kicked 16 points but Lancaster's men never went away and added to Erik Lund's first-half touchdown with scores from Mike MacDonald, Scott Armstrong and Satala.
That drew criticism of his own players from Saracens director of rugby, Alan Gaffney, who branded the visitors' defending as ``unacceptable''.
``We've come up here and scored six tries but our defence was just not acceptable,'' he said.
``Full credit to Leeds because they really kept going and deserve some credit for that.''