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Rhinos set the standard
Posted by Number 2 on January 27 2007 - 13:06:36

Where's the Crowd!
By David Bywater

Testimonial matches – what do we think? Good, bad, an irrelevance? They can be an excellent way of recognising a player’s contribution to the club and the game as a whole. Perhaps they should be a celebration of an individual’s career. I came away from last night’s game feeling the game hadn’t done Keith Senior justice.

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

50

Rhinos

v

Giants

00

Senior/Reilly Testimonial

26th January 2007

Rhinos set the standard

Given his career I thought Keith deserved more than just a regular pre-season friendly. Even the receipts would have to be shared with Paul Reilly. This wasn’t a celebration of a great career more a building block towards Super League X11. Pre-match entertainment consisted of Ronnie the Rhino diving in front of the Southstand, the dancers and a blonde singer, no fun element, no big screen with some video footage of one of Super Leagues greatest players – I just wanted to see the hit on Barrie-Jon Mather one more time.

If I am not mistaken Keith has played more Super League games than anybody else, Keith actually played in the inaugural Super League game between Paris and Sheffield. His international career is unmatched by any current British player. In an era when Great Britain have been outclassed by both our counterparts down under Keith has been one of the few players who can say he was able to compete with the best in the world. Is there a more majestic sight than Keith Senior on the hoof, a wonderfully balanced runner full of power and pace – I for one wouldn’t relish the idea of trying to stop him when he is in full flight? His game has many more facets - a superb short pass especially under pressure. Anyone who saw the pass out of the back of his hand to Donald tonight will know what I mean.

Keith is hoping to develop a career in coaching – if the young players under his tutoring can pick up a fraction of his skill, commitment and desire they will have the basis of a very successful professional career.

On arriving at the ground I was pleasantly surprised to see the admission was only £10 - £5 for my son – well done Gary - £25 for three of us – did this offer value for money – you bet it did.

The reduced cost helped to boost the crowd – most parts of the ground were populated including the new Carnegie stand and their looked to be more than the 5,700 “official attendance”, although it is impossible to argue with the new conputerised entry system. It is a shame the Huddersfield fans didn’t come out and support their man in greater numbers.

Keith led the players on to the field resplendent in their “Keith Senior one night only” kit. Some observations from the warm up: Ali looked fitter than he has since 2004, Kylie look in much better shape than on Boxing Day. I don’t know how much spinach Nick Scruton has been eating but Popeye would have been jealous of his biceps – bigger jersey for Scruton please! Danny McGuire must have put some hours in the gym his upper body looks way more powerful than it has in the past.

In previous seasons under Smith the Rhinos have warmed up in two distinct groups – not anymore – flowing moves involving the whole side were the order of the night. Much has been made of Jamie Thackray’s difficulties in adapting to a new ball catching technique – watching the warm up you can get a glimpse of why this skill is going to be needed. Every player including the props was involved in passing movements.

On to the game – did we have to wait long for a score – 2 minutes, McGuire long pass to Donald who ran and kicked through for Brent Webb to collect and score on his Headingley debut? Sinfield duly converted 6-0. In the next set of six McGuire threw a short pass to Webb in the midst of a flowing move that made my jaw drop and was worth admission money alone. Within 5 minutes we were treated to a McGuire special – a superb swerve left Reilly grasping at thin air 30 metres out – Danny under the sticks, Sinfield over them 12-0. Following two bone crunching Gibson tackles the ball came free Mcguire showing some soccer skills sadly lacking at LS11 these days hacked on three times to score in the corner, the conversion hit the post – at 16-0 the Rhinos were scoring at a point a minute.

We only had to wait seven minutes for an illustration of Tony’s concise passing technique. The ball was worked right through Toopi to Gibson who threw a lovely pass to McGuire who threw a superb short flick pass inside to Toopi – another conversion 22-0 Rhinos. Things went quiet as a combination of Huddersfield pressure and Silverwood penalties saw the Rhinos on the back foot for almost 10 minutes – at one point the Rhinos defended five back to back sets.

It didn’t last and the Rhinos showed in the last 10 minutes of the half they are a different side to last season. Firstly a superbly executed Burrow bomb over the head of the hapless Gardner was collected by Gibson to score. Then the try of the game – a thrilling passing move through Toopi, Gibson, McGuire, Ali and finally Burrow – if we see a better try this year I will be amazed. Straight from the kick off Burrow threw a superb long pass to Donald who ran and delayed his pass back to Burrow leaving Reilly stranded and Burrow under the black dot. Sinfield converted 2 out of three – half time Rhinos 38 – Giants 0.

The second half had a difficult act to follow and is often the case it failed to match the excellence of the first. A combination of the Rhinos taking their foot off the gas and Huddersfield increasing their effort saw a bit of a stalemate. There were some bits of high skill - Senior’s pass to Donald, some bits of high drama – a 20 man brawl instigated by Keith Mason who duly got his marching orders. The match was rounded off in the most appropriate fashion with a typical Keith Senior try in the corner in front of the Southstand faithful. Final score Rhinos 50 – Giants 0.

It would be amiss not to mention Mr Silverwood – judging by his tan he hasn’t spent much of January in Mirfield – I didn’t realise the referees had warm weather training camps. I have attended two games since the inception of full time officials, in both the penalty count has been closer to 30 than 20. Hopefully this will calm down as the regular season gets underway - otherwise the spectacle of Super League is going to become a very disjointed affair.

It is almost impossible glean very much from a game as one-sided as this. Some observations: it would appear Smith has taken on board the errors from last season and he has been working hard on the skill level of the players and with that a greater freedom. The quality of the passing was a big improvement on anything we saw last season. A half back combination that worked superbly – a more Australian approach with Burrow running the show and McGuire providing the touches of class. The pairing of McGuire and Webb look a potent force, they appear to have a natural instinct and understanding for each other’s game. The forwards look a more coherent unit with a deal more freedom of expression. Donald look more at ease on the left – although anything has to be an improvement on playing outside Chev. On the right Gibson, who was my man of the match, brought the best out of Toopi who had by far his best game in a Rhino’s shirt.

On the whole a very enjoyable evening – it is a shame the crowd wasn’t a little bigger – these games seldom appear to catch the imagination of the general public.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Giants
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
1
Reilly
2
Donald
1
2
Gardner
3
Toopi
1
3
Nero
4
Senior
1
4
Brown
20
Gibson
1
5
Elford
6
McGuire
2
6
Thorman
7
Burrow
2
7
Paul
16
Bailey
8
Skandalis
9
Diskin
9
Hudson
10
Peacock
10
Griffin
14
Lauitiiti
11
Snitch
12
Ellis
12
Lolesi
13
Sinfield
7
13
Crabtree
11
Jones-Buchanan
14
Hemingway
17
Scruton
15
Raleigh
8
Leuluai
16
Mason
5
Smith
17
Jones
23
Tansey
18
Wild
19
Jackson

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
38-00
Attendence:
5,681
Referee:
Richard Silverwood


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