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It was always going to be an emotional night at Headingley as the Leeds Rhinos hosted their first game since the death of idol, superstar, and MND campaigner Rob Burrow welcoming the Leig Leopards to a sold-out stadium.

But the departure, by mutual consent, of coach Rohan Smith during the week added an extra edge with Scott Grix and Chev Walker taking temporary charge while the global search for a new coach takes place at the highest level.

Leigh had been made favourites with the bookies with the home side given a four point start on the handicap coupon and a win for Leigh would lift them above Huddersfield and just a point behind the Rhinos.

Just under ten minutes had elapsed when the Rhinos used the crowd’s emotion to open the scoring with Brodie Croft riding a tackle and stretching for the line to ground by the left post. Rhyse Martin added the conversion for a 6-0 lead.

Leigh were benefitting from the majority of possession but the Rhinos defence was holding firm and the Rhinos hit on the counter attack, Croft taking a pass from Lachlan Miller on his own ten and breaking the Leigh line accelerating downfield to evade the Leopards chasers to dive in down the right hand side. Martin was wide with his conversion, the home side with a ten-point advantage.

Leigh were held up over the line on the half hour with excellent Rhinos defence maintaining the shut-out.

A late hit on Cameron Smith from Aaron Pene gifted Leeds a penalty thirty from the Leigh sticks, Martin hitting the target on thirty-eight to give Leeds a deserved 12-0 half time lead.

Leigh laid siege to the Leeds line in the opening minutes of the second half but totally against the run of play it was the Rhinos who got the next score, Matt Frawley finishing after breaks from Miller and Ned McCormack decimated the Leigh defence and created the space.

On fifty-six the Leopards registered their first points of the game, Matt Moylan scoring with a move from the back of the scrum after a Martin knock-on inside his own ten. Moylan was unable to convert his own try, Leigh still needing three scores.

On sixty-seven Edwin Ipape crashed through the Leeds defence as they failed to get hands on him, diving in under the sticks and giving Moylan a simple conversion to reduce the arrears to eight points with twelve minutes remaining.

Leeds took the game back to Leigh in the closing stages and frustrated any Leigh attacks to take the 18-10 win.

A deserved and emotional win for the Rhinos under the temporary stewardship of Walker and Grix lifts the Rhinos level on points with sixth placed Catalans Dragons and still a shot at the top half of the table. It was a more expansive and expressive Leeds side who seemed to have a bit more bite in defence. Whether it was the emotion and spirit of Rob Burrow who gave them a temporary boost, or if this is the start of a new era for the Rhinos, only time will tell.

Leeds Rhinos: Miller, Fusitu’a, Momirovski, McCormack, Edgell, Croft (2T), Frawley (T), Oledzki, O’Connor, Sangare, McDonnell, Martin (3/4 G), Smith. Subs: Eseh, Littlewood, Johnson, Goudemand. 18th Man: Nicholson-Watton. 

Leigh Leopards: Moylan (T, 1/2 G), Hanley, Hardaker, Leutele, Charnley, Chamberlain, Lam, Amone, Ipape (T), Trout, O’Donnell, Halton, Hughes.  Subs: Norman, Davis, Dwyer, Pene. 18th Man: McIntosh.

Half-Time: 12-0.

Full-Time: 18-10.

Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0: HT: 16-0, 18-0, 18-4, 18-8, 18-10 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Leeds.

Referee: Chris Kendall.  

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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Fri 21st Jun 2024 9:53 PM | Views : 3646 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES