Hull KR 26 Leeds Rhinos 6 - No excuses as sorry Leeds Rhinos put to flight by Robins hero Linnett
A DISJOINTED LEEDS Rhinos’ losing run increased to four games when they were comprehensively outplayed at Hull KR last night – and they could have no complaints about the result or 26-6 scoreline.
Though still missing a host of first-choice players – including Cameron Smith who was the latest to join the casualty list before the game – Leeds’ team was, in theory, stronger than recent weeks and certainly more experienced.
Ash Handley, at full-back, Konrad Hurrell, Richie Myler, Bodene Thompson and King Vuniyayawa were all back in the 17, but there was no improvement with ball in hand and Leeds were worse defensively and more ill-disciplined than in recent weeks, all that adding up to their worst effort of the season so far.
Even with two familiar with the role in the halves, Myler and Kyle Eastmond, Leeds lacked last-tackle options – the number of times they have been tackled in possession on the final play in the last two games is frightening – and rarely asked questions of a solid Rovers defence.
They made far too many errors, again and conceded some unnecessary penalties, including a couple when they were in possession.
There was some strong goalline defence early on, but they twice conceded from close-range.
Rhinos never got going, after failing to complete either of their first two sets and being penalised three times in the opening six minutes.
That set the tone for a poor opening half at the end of which Leeds were fortunate to be only 10 points adrift.
Once Rovers had scored first following the interval, after Rhinos had wasted a golden opportunity, the visitors never looked like clawing their way back.
Hull KR ran in three tries in the opening 26 minutes, all created by Jordan Abdull who underlined what can happen if a team have an arsenal of last- tackle options.
Brad Takairangi almost scored the opener, on his debut, when he took Abdull’s cross kick in the air, came down with the ball, but spilled it on the line.
Either side of that, Rovers’ other centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall was twice tackled a blade of grass short, by Alex Sutcliffe and Handley, then Myler and Tom Briscoe.
It was written in the script Ryan Hall would score for Rovers, in his first game against the club he represented with such distinction for 12 years.
The touchdown was his 200th in Super League, making him the second-highest scorer in the competition’s history, lifting him above Paul Wellens and former team-mate Keith Senior, who was at the game on media duty.
Abdull kicked to the left, the bounce deceived Tom Briscoe and Hall gathered to touchdown on 12 minutes.
That was no less than Rovers deserved, though Kruise Leeming had gone close for Rhinos moments earlier.
The Robins went further in front, through another ex-Leeds man, just five minutes later, Matt Parcell taking Abdull’s pass and forcing his way over, managing to get the ball down after it seemed he would be held up.
Abdull converted that to make it 10-0 and the half-back continued to torture Rhinos on 26 minutes, sliding a grubber kick over the line which Kane Linnett touched down, before the half-back made it 16-0 with the goal.
Rhinos coach Richard Agar reacted to Rovers’ third try by bringing on Brad Dwyer and the replacement hooker made an immediate impact, winning the ball, then a penalty and getting Leeds on the board by darting over from acting-half.
Dwyer had a dig and Vuniyayawa showed some good signs off the bench, along with Thompson, but there were no real positives for Rhinos.
Rhyse Martin had gone off at the same time as Leeming, so Handley added the two, but that was as good as it got.
The final few minutes of the first half and opening stages of the second were a horror show.
Knock-ons by Tom and Luke Briscoe put Leeds under huge pressure and they also conceded a set restart and Thompson was penalised in possession, from which Abdull dropped his 40-metre kick short.
A spell at the start of the second period highlighted Leeds’ problems. Mikolaj Oledzki was kept out by a crucial tackle from Luis Johnson, then Muizz Mustapha – on loan at Hull KR from Leeds – knocked on 20 metres out.
It was a great opportunity for Rhinos, made more so by a set restart, but they didn’t get to the last tackle as Handley knocked on.
Within seconds, Rovers had forced a drop out and from that Linnett powered over from close-range off Parcell’s pass.
On the hour Leeds, finally, put a nice handling move together, involving Dwyer, Myer and Hurrell, but Luke Briscoe knocked on trying to dive over at the corner.
The tin lid was put on things with 13 minutes left when Rhinos got a penalty in good field position, but Myler’s pass – which would have sent Dwyer over – was ruled forward and the half-back was sin-binned for dissent.
Inevitably, from the penalty Rovers put the game out of Leeds’ reach, when Linnett stormed in from Abdull’s pass to complete his hat-trick,
The penalty count was 11-5 in Rovers’ favour and referee Marcus Griffiths also awarded 11 set restarts, six of them to the hosts.
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