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Lazenby Back at Headingley
Posted by southstander on January 07 2007 - 20:06:37

Oozed Class
By Guest Reporter David Bywater

It’s early January 2007 and the Rhinos start their journey around the grass roots of Rugby League. The build up for the new season sees the Rhinos visiting Hunslet, Featherstone’s recently renamed Chris Moyles Stadium and York before the opening Super League game at Salford in February.

Hunslet have won this fixture for the past two seasons as the Rhinos have fielded what amounted to academy sides. No change this year either – Tony Smith selects what is likely to be his starting U21 side.

I hate to be cynical but what purpose does this fixture serve?

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

12

Rhinos

v

Hunslet Hawks

08

Lazenby Cup

7th January 2007

Lazenby Back at Headingley

It does give Gulfcoast, Percy and the Admiral an opportunity of an annual benchmarking to ensure winter training has gone well and their ability to consume copious quantities of the local brew hasn’t been diminished during the close season. Admirable as this maybe I am not sure how it contributes to the Rhinos winning the end of season big match at Old Trafford.

Does it give some of the newer players an opportunity of a gentle jog of acclimatisation? Given Smith’s exclusion of Webb, Kylie and Toopi - I guess not.

Ah so it’s all about revenue generation for these less fortunate institutions that occupy the lower echelons of the professional game. This being the case a radical re-think is required if this fixture is not to be consigned to the scrapheap in the very near future. Boxing Day has taught Hetherington you can’t fool all the people all the time. Games have to offer value for money, £12 to watch a trial game consisting of two under strength sides is not value. It was only 2005 when for £12 you could have seen St. Helens, Bradford or Wigan. Attendances have dropped off for this fixture since 2004 as fans realise cost and value no longer equate. I’m all for supporting the grass roots of the game but there has to be a better way. There were plenty of empty seats to be had – I hazard a guess if Brent Webb had played for 10 minutes there would have been considerably less.

Rant over – the pitch looked in very good condition given the deluge it has coped with in the last few weeks. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the weather – cold, damp and windy – all those clamouring for a return to winter rugby you are welcome to it. The Rhinos were well serviced with expert advice, Poching, Bastion, Cummins, Senior and the boss man himself, in fact the support staff nearly out numbered the substitutes but not quite!!

The teams ran out to Robbie’s Let me entertain you – was this an indicator? We were entertained but not by the skill on show from either side. Early season rustiness and difficult conditions resulted in a knock-on-athon. Surprisingly started by Jamie Thackray after 2 minutes, we were running at an average of one a minute for the first 15. The stop start nature of the opening killed all fluidity and the game descended into a very turgid opening. Early highlights included good runs from Thackray - who thankfully managed to improve his ball retention. Smith and Tansey offered glimses of class and Kaye was all energy and guile. It looked like things were on the up when Williams caught a lovely bomb from Tansey only to be tackled touch in goal by veteran ex Queens winger Steve Morton.

20 minutes into the game and a superb 40/20 from Hunslet’s Darren Robinson started a passage of play that lead to the opening score. Two minutes later Kaye conceded a penalty in front 20 metres out – Robinson duly obliged 2-0 Hunslet, not undeserved on the balance of play. The intensity of the rain increased – pity the game didn’t follow suit. Hall squandered a great opportunity – knocking on with the line beckoning. Kaye did the same a few minutes later and we were treated to a Thackray grubber which Asafa Powell would have struggled to reach.

The first half was notable for the return to action of Michael Haley, an outstanding prospect who has played virtually no rugby since a horrendous break to his arm in 2005. We desperately need some quality young props – Michael has that potential. Let’s hope 2007 sees Michael recapture the form he showed in 2005.

A few more knock-ons and a missed easy penalty from Robinson later and Hunslet were threatening the Leeds line. The ball found its way into the hands of Danny Cook - previously a full back in the Leeds academy with a full head of hair, now a number 11 with no hair!! – Cook easily fended off the efforts of Smith and Rettie to touch down close to the sticks. Robinson converted 8-0 Hunslet and that is how it remained until half time.

During half time I looked around at the notables drinking their tea these included: Peter Roe, John Morgan, Jamie Jones Buchanan, Cath Hetherington and the Lord Mayor of Leeds, bet he was contemplating whether holding office is really all it is cracked up to be!!

On with the game the second half continued much as had the first, plenty of endeavour but unfortunately the skill on show rarely matched the effort. The erratic nature of the game was encapsulated in one movement. Firth the Hunslet 7 kicked a beautiful grubber through – Smith effortlessly picked it off his toes, two body swerves later and he was away nearing the half way line. Hunslet’s Andy Robinson – he was very speedy - did the unlikely and caught Smith who undid all his good work by releasing the ball forward. The game was ever thus.

However the Rhinos did manage a very handling move down the right which put Briggs through a rare gap in the Hunslet defence, Gibson converted 8-6 Hunslet game on. You would have thought youth and full time training would have started to tell and the Rhinos would gain the ascendancy. How wrong you can be – it was Hunslet that had all the pressure. Robinson blew a golden chance out wide, Smith superbly came to the rescue in holding Moxon up over the line and Murgatroyd – their best player for me – had a try under the sticks chalked off for a double movement.

With 10 minutes to go Leeds got the bit between their teeth and attacked with gusto. Hunslet dropped out three times in the next 5 minutes. Just as it looked like Leeds weren’t going to penetrate the defiant Hunslet line Lee Smith came up with a bit of magic and touched down with 5 minutes to go. Gibson converted 8-12 and the Lazenby Cup once again resides at Headingley.

At this juncture it would be a miss not to mention Ben Thaler, the referee. I understand he is one Stuart’s full time boys. Let’s hope his whistle doesn’t see as much action again this season. I counted 25 penalties and one sin bin – hopefully this was a one-off not to be repeated performance.

On the whole a very pleasant afternoon – Hunslet deserved more from the game than they got. Several players did themselves justice and they look a much improved outfit on the tired and disappointing 2006 side.

As for Leeds there was little to jump up and down about, Smith oozed class – didn’t look too tired either. Tansey looks more polished and Kaye’s energy should serve him well in the coming months. As for Thackray, he gave it his all but for the most part made little impact.

An enjoyable afternoon – but worth £12! – come on Gary sort it out.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Hawks
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Smith
1
1
Bramauld
2
Hall
2
Harris
3
Ratu
3
Mack
4
Gibson
2
4
Robinson
5
Williams
5
Morton
6
Briggs
1
6
Moxon
7
Tansey
7
Firth
8
Burgess
8
Murgatroyd
9
Kaye
9
Robinson
2
10
Thackray
10
Ekis
11
Brook
11
Cook
1
12
Hart
12
Cartledge
13
Brown, M
13
Greenwood
14
Gale
14
Williams
15
Haley
15
Hulme
16
Burton
16
Walkin
17
Faal
17
Carbutt
18
Broughton
18
Wainhouse
19
Rettie
19
Walker
20
Brown, L
20
Pennington
21
Walsh
22
Jones-Bishop

Kick Off:
15:30
Half-Time:
00-08
Referee:
Ben Thaler


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