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Another Close Call
Posted by southstander on February 19 2005 - 00:49:57

Couple for Calders
What happened to Saints last season at Headingley, with the 70-0 drubbing, was one of those freak games. There was no-way that even the most optimistic Rhinos supporter would believe that we could do it again, preferring to hope for a narrow win.

A capacity all-ticket crowd crawled through the Leeds rush-hour, delaying the Saints coach from arriving until 30 minutes before kick-off. As the crowd packed in, should-to-shoulder, the anticipation of a classic was almost tangible.

A roar greeted the teams arrival, as a near full strength Saints side lined up against the World Champions.

30

Rhinos

v

St. Helens

18

Superleague X

18th February 2005

Another Close Call

The only change that Smith made to the Rhinos seventeen, was to replace McDermott with McDonald at the eleventh hour, by the end of the game big Wayne would be wishing he'd stayed as water carrier! Last season, Saints claimed that Longs absence cost them an assault on the title, but this year the inept gambler was back...there could now be no excuse.

Leeds got off to the start that we'd dreamed of. With just three minutes on the clock, McGuire intercepted a pass on his own line and made it to the half-way line. The next five tackles were used well to drive deep into Saints territory and a Dunemann kick was handed back to the Rhinos by the Saints defence. The ball was moved wide left and Calderwood went over, improving the angle sufficiently for Sinfield to add the extras.

Six minutes later and the Rhinos doubled their lead. A high kick from Sinfield forced a Saints knock-on and in the next set the ball was moved wide right with McGuire and Ellis combining to put Walker over. Sinfield again slotted the goal for 12-0. It was a sensational start, and minds started to wander back to last years rout. We were somewhat premature!

On seventeen minutes, a catalogue of missed tackles, which started with McDonald missing Sculthorpe, allowed Wilkin to break to close, before passing to Albert to score a seventy metre try. Sculthorpe kicked the goal and Saints were back in it.


Five from Five

Saints then returned the kick-off, straight back over the Rhinos whitewash. Another break by the quicksilver Wilkin caused disarray in the Rhinos ranks and Sculthorpe went very close. A quick play saw subsititute Cunningham dive over from acting half for a trademark try. Sculthorpe goaled and levelled the scores at 'dozens'.

With the scores tied, we entered a period of deadlock, which took until the thirty-first minute to break. A superb ball steal by Senior, on the half-way line, allowed the Rhinos to build a threatening position. Saints conceeded a penalty and allowed the Rhinos to progress into their twenty where McGuire engineered a pass to Mathers which he took with his back to the Saints line and spun to fool the defence and crash over. Sinfields conversion re-established a six point cushion, but it wouldn't last long.

Two minutes later, and on the last tackle in their set, Saints put a grubber into the Rhinos goal area. Mathers shepherded back, but as he waited for the ball to go out of play, Talau pounced and got the score. Sculthorpes conversion levelled it again, and it looked like it would be one of those nights.


Best Game so Far
On thirty-six, it looked as though we'd go in trailing the Saints, but as Long broke to the Leeds line, Calderwood tracked back and put in a sensational tackle...as good as a try! As the clock ran down, we breathed a sigh of relief as the sides went in level.

We'd played okay in the first half, but lost too much posession. In the end we were fortunate to be level. I wasn't looking forward to the second half.

The second half started well for the Rhinos, as they defended the scoreboard end. With the half just two minutes old, McGuire got the favours of the video referee as he ruled a good 40-20. Two plays later and a McGuire grubber was pounced on by Poching. Sinfield converted but we needed more.

Time ticked by, and the Saints were becoming increasingly dominant. The score remained unchanged thanks mostly to some good Rhinos defence, but mostly because whenever the Saints got in the Rhinos twenty they dropped the ball. If I didn't know better I'd have suspected that they'd all bet on their side to loose.

A Sinfield attempt at a drop goal slipped wide off the fingers of a Saints blocker, and you could sense that the Leeds players were tense. It took until the sixty-eight minute for a stroke of Calderwood genius to calm the frayed nerves. A Sinfield bomb was chased by the lightening winger and disected the Saints defence causing disarray. The ball bounced into the Saints goal and Calderwood fought off the full back to touch down in the corner.

Sinfield added the conversion from the touchline, in off the upright, and we could all breathe easier. The Rhinos ran the clock down to make it two wins from two at the start of the campaign.

For the second week running the Rhinos were lucky to escape with the points. A better second half performance, nilling the opposition, was only possible due to the Saints total inability to keep hold of the ball. Millward will be less than happy with his charges, if I was him I'd send them all home with a ball!

Bright points for the Rhinos were Calderwood, possibly most improved player so far this year, and Ellis, who had his best game so far in Blue and Amber. Dunemann seems to be fitting into the hooking role okay, but he's no Diskin. Wayne McDonald looked as though he was trying too hard to make an impression, and he failed miserably - it may be some time before he gets another chance.

Still, it's two from two, and you don't underplay the importance of a win against Saints!


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Sinfield54%
8
Ellis18%
6
Calderwood12%
3
McGuire4%
3
McKenna4%
2
Walker3%
1
Jones-Buchanan2%
1
Poching2%


Match Facts

Rhinos
Saints
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Mathers
1
20
Hardman
2
Calderwood
2
2
Gardner
3
Walker
1
3
Lyon
4
Senior
4
Talau
1
5
Bai
5
Albert
1
13
Sinfield
5
13
Sculthorpe
3
6
McGuire
7
Long
8
Bailey
8
Fozzard
14
Dunemann
14
Higham
15
Ward
17
Anderson
18
Jones-Buchanan
11
Gilmour
12
McKenna
19
Graham
20
Ellis
12
Wilkin
7
Burrow
9
Cunningham
1
11
Lauiti'iti
10
Edmondson
17
McDonald
15
Bennett
16
Poching
1
21
Roby

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
18-18
Attendance:
21,225
Referee:
Ashley Klein


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