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Title Defence Up and Running
Posted by southstander on February 03 2012 - 23:36:53

Hat-trick
The Rhinos started their 2012 Superleague title defence with a party to celebrate the skippers 400th Leeds appearance. Hull KR, with a great travelling support, came to spoil it.

With the pitch frozen solid and air temperatures plummeting we knew we were unlikely to be in for a classic, but both side showed early on that they were up for the game and keen for the win.

Superleague XVII was up and running.

We bring you all of the action here......

34

Rhinos

v

Hull KR

16

Superleague XVII - Round 1

3rd February 2012

Title Defence Up and Running

Clarkson and Moore were the two player to miss out as McDermott must have struggled to whittle a strong looking nineteen down to seventeen. Few will have been surprised by the decision to start Burrow at hooker and leave McShane on the bench, I think that this is something that these two players and ourselves should get used to for the season ahead. Clarkson and Moore will have been disappointed not to pay, but relieved that they wouldn't be risking their bodies on an ice-rink of a pitch.

Leeds were out of the blocks quickly and having benefitted from a couple of early penalties for holding down, and a shocking unforced KR error in the carry. With just five minutes on the clock Delaney scooted from acting half-back and stretched his ball carrying arm over the line to score. Sinfield missed what looked to be a simple conversion for 4-0.

Early offence turned into a long period of defence and KR got over for their first try of the season after the Rhinos had knocked-on twenty metres from their own sticks. The Robins moved the ball left and exploited what would increasingly look like a left side weakness (Smith and Watkins) as Horne went over off a short pass. Dobson missed the conversion, as he would continue to do all night, but the scores were level at 4-4.


400 up
Hull KR didn't ease off and continued their onslaught as the Rhinos were forced onto the back foot. Attack after attack was held at bay but only at the expense of drop-outs and penalties, you felt that the line would have to be breached at some point but on twenty-five the Rhinos stepped up a gear, went down the other end of the field and scored when McGuire put in a grubber which was scored by Webb. Sinfield converted for 10-4.

That should have been the end of the scoring action for the half but a speculative long KR kick in the 38th minute held up and had to be taken in-goal by Webb who was then tackled forcing a dropout.

KR used their tackles well and on the last Horne once again took advantage of some left side defensive weakness to get his second. Dobson failed with his chance to draw the scores level and Leeds went into the shed with a not-entirely-deserved 10-8 lead.

This game was there for the losing if we didn't buck our second half ideas up, and with the second half just six minutes old it was KR who hit the front for the first time.

Out left, again, it was Welham who scored the visitors third try of the night. Fortunately Dobson missed again, but his side were 12-10 ahead.

On fifty-eight the frozen pitch claimed its first victim of the night as Jamie Jones-Buchanan had to be helped off the field. A minute later and we regained the lead after some nonesense in the tackle allowed Leeds good field position before a McGuire long ball found Watkins who stepped inside past the defender to score. Sinfield kicked the two for 16-12.

Four minutes later and Leeds were in again, and KR reeling. This time it was a brilliant Watkins jinking solo effort from thirty metres to score next to the sticks making the skippers kick for 22-12 a formality. Now we were back in the driving seat.

On sixty-eight KR got their last try of the nigh, again unconverted, when Hodgson was given the try in the left corner despite appearing to bounce the ball in the act of scoring. KR were back within a converted score, but that was as close as they would get.


Injured

With seven minutes left Watkins completed a twenty-four minute hat-trick as he used brute strength to take tacklers over the line with him and ground the ball. Sinfields boot made it 28-16. Four minutes later and McGuire added his name to the scoresheet completing a move which he both started, and played a passing role in. He touched down next to the sticks and made Sinfield conversion for the final score of 34-16 a formality.

Conditions were awful for the players tonight. Slippy ball, cold fingers and a pitch that more closely resembled an ice rink. Both sets of players tried to put on a show and the tackling was fierce, but mostly fair. KR were penalised to the hilt by Bentham, mostly for laying on in the tackle in an attempt to slow down the Rhinos game. KR arguably had the best of possession and position but the Rhinos were clinical on the break. The visitors definitely impressed and they will be a handful when the weather improves and the ground softens.

That said it was a decent enough Leeds performance, just a shame we looked a little exposed on our right side as Smith and Watkins seemed to struggle defensively. Great trio from Watkins in attack though, he knows where the line is.

Sinfield seemed a bit quiet on his celebration night, although five from six with the boot was more than adequate.

Next saturdays World Club Challenge warm up at the DW Stadium will be a sterner test, then we'll see what work has really been done in pre-season.

Up and running, two points under the belt, we coudln't really have asked for much more.


Please vote for your Man-of-the-Match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Hull KR
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
1
McDonnell
5
Hall
2
Hall
4
Hardaker
3
Welham
1
3
Watkins
3
4
Webster
14
Smith
5
Hodgson, D.
1
13
Sinfield
5
19
Murrell
6
McGuire
1
7
Dobson
16
Bailey
8
Clinton
7
Burrow
14
Withers
10
Peacock
23
Paea
11
Jones-Buchanan
18
Horne
2
15
Delaney
1
11
Mika
12
Ablett
13
Lovegrove
9
McShane
9
Hodgson, J.
8
Leuluai
10
Taylor
19
Hauraki
20
Cox
20
Griffin
22
Wheeldon

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
10-08
Referee:
Phil Bentham
Crowd:
15,343


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