19th December 2005
Leeds Tykes star Justin Marshall believed the hostile atmosphere at Perpignan's Stade Aime Giral brought the best out of the young Tykes side in the heroic 12-8 defeat on Saturday night.
Phil Davies' side did gain a losing bonus point, because they lost by less than seven points, which keeps them in the hunt for the Quarter Finals of the Heineken Cup.
The game had been hyped up all week in the French Catalan capital after the Tykes controversially won the previous encounter 21-20 at Headingley six days earlier and the home crowd turned out in force to see that justice, as they saw it, was done.
However, Marshall believes that only served to pump up the Leeds players for the clash. He said, "When we came out for the warm up, we certainly knew we were the away team! We were up against a very tough side who are currently second in their own competition and they haven't lost at home for two years. But I thought we thrived on the occasion. It was a great atmosphere to play rugby in, that is one of the reasons you play the game, to play in occasions like this.
"They are passionate fans, but they are obviously very knowledgeable about their rugby and it was great to turn that hostility on it's head during the game and the same people who were booing us when we came out for the warm up, were applauding us when we came in at the end of the game, I doubt that happens very often and it is something we can be proud of.
"We are disappointed to have lost because we did enough in the game to get the win but we got the bonus point and that keeps us in touch. The game was very enjoyable and the players are showing real confidence now. It goes to show how far confidence can take you. When we were on that bad run nothing seemed to go for us but we started by getting phases together in games, then we got a run of quality performances and we started to believe in ourselves which then got us on a run of positive results. We've still got a long way to go but there is a real determination within the group to fight for everything, this group of players really cares about Leeds, I think that was obvious from the real pride everyone showed out there." Meanwhile, Director of Rugby Phil Davies was confident that the Tykes had come out of their clash in France without picking up any further injuries.
The only doubt was former Springbok Andre Snyman, who went off midway through the second half with a thigh strain but Davies said it was purely precautionary, he added, "Andre picked up a bang on his thigh so we decided to take him off. We have got three of the biggest games of our lives coming up now and we need everyone on board for them." That run of three games in the Guinness Premiership starts with the arrival of fellow strugglers Newcastle Falcons on 27th December at Headingley which is now building up to be a must win game for both teams.