Fab Featherstone Rovers hand Leeds Rhinos a battering

If they learn from their mistakes, Leeds Rhinos will benefit massively from a 40-18 pre-season trouncing at Featherstone Rovers.

The engage Super League outfit were totally embarrassed in the first half as Rovers – playing up the slope – romped into a 22-0 interval lead.

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The introduction of a host of youngsters after half-time added some enthusiasm, but from Rhinos' point of view, it was a dismal afternoon of few positives.

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The visitors fielded 10 players in their starting 13 who played in Super League last year, but that opening period was the poorest produced by a Leeds team at senior level for quite some time.

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They struggled to string more than a couple of passes together, potentially good attacking positions were wasted through soft knock-ons and a series of forward passes and their defence, particularly out wide, was ruthlessly exposed.

Young halves Steve Ward and Rory Kettlewell and loose-forward Callum Casey struggled at this level, though they will benefit from the experience.

Rovers – who were at full-strength – look like being among the front-runners in the Co-op Championship again. They were excellent.

The loss of stand-off Kyle Briggs – who has joined Bradford Bulls – was a blow, but Liam Finn's switch from half-back to hooker has filled that void.

Even with last year's leading tryscorer Zak Hardaker among the substitutes, Rovers were too quick and sharp out wide and they out-muscled Leeds' strong starting pack, who couldn't get to grips with Fev's offloads.

With 20 days until the season begins, a major concern for Leeds will be the loss of winger Ryan Hall, who limped off after just six minutes due to a severe dead leg.

Luke Burgess got a late call into Rhinos' side after Ryan Bailey withdrew with a groin problem and was one of Leeds' better performers.

Rovers' big second-rower Jon Grayshon did some damage and his offload created the first try, finished by Greg Worthington after the outstanding Finn had begun the move.

That was on eight minutes and only five later Finn's kick caught Michael Coady out of position and Tommy Saxton picked up to send Tony Tonks crashing over – the first of Finn's five conversions making it 10-0.

It took Rhinos 20 minutes to mount their first serious attack, but that broke down when Jay Pitts' pass was intercepted close to the line.

Rovers counter-attacked – inspired by Grayshon's powerful run – and some excellent handling by Finn, Kain, Ross Divorty and Sam Smeaton produced a try in the corner for Bryn Powell.

Five minutes before the break Kallum Watkins was harshly adjudged to have knocked on and following the scrum, James Davey was pulled down just short and, after the markers went awol, Matty Dale nipped through for the softest of tries from acting-half.

Rovers increased their lead eight minutes into the second period when Finn sent Ian Hardman over after a Watkins error, but Leeds finally got on the scoreboard on 52, Liam Hood nipping through for a trademark score from dummy-half, though there was a doubt over the grounding. Paul McShane converted.

Hood showed up well before going off injured at the end of the third quarter. The young hooker's touchdown barely knocked Featherstone out of their stride as Tommy Saxton collected Finn's brilliant cross kick

for their sixth try moments later.

McShane – who had some good moments – and Jared Stewart were both held up over the line before Lee Smith touched down from Burgess' pass.

Rovers trialist Tom Hemingway raced in for a long-range interception, improved by Hardaker, but Leeds scored last when McShane reached over and then completed the scoring with his third conversion.

Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Saxton, Worthington, Smeaton, Powell, Kain, Finn, Tonks, Kaye, Dickens, Spears, Grayshon, Dale. Subs (all used) Davey, Divorty, Haley, Dee, Hemingway, Welham, Bostock, Hardaker.

Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop, Smith, Coady, Watkins, Hall, Ward, Kettlewell, Bailey, McShane, Kirke, Clarkson, Pitts, Casey. Subs (all used) Nicholson, Hood, Wilson, Chisholm, Elliott, Carroll, Amor, Stewart.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).

Attendance: 2,134.

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