Leeds Rhinos 12 Hull FC 18 - Below-par Leeds sunk in stormy Super League encounter
THE FANS who had waited so long to be back at Emerald Headingley went home disappointed after Leeds Rhinos slumped to a 18-12 defeat by Hull.
Leeds got what they deserved from an at times controversial and stormy encounter which ended in their sixth defeat from eight matches.
Injuries have had a major bearing on Leeds’ results this year, but their side had a more solid look with Richie Myler back at full-back and Zane Tetevano in the pack and they still came up with a below-par performance on attack.
Referee Marcus Griffiths also had a poor game and it was one of those nights when both teams could feel aggrieved over certain incidents.
For example, early on, Leeds captain Luke Gale might have been sin-binned for a professional foul on Josh Reynolds then, just before the break, Hull scored a crucial try in the set from a drop-out, when Myler appeared to be shoved back in-goal after a tackle was completed.
Unfortunately, that’s part and parcel of the game. Leeds benefited with the decision which led to their golden-point winning penalty last week, so it’s swings and roundabouts through a season, but the bottom line is Rhinos need to be better, all round and especially when things go against them.
Referees aren’t responsible for the defensive misreads, particularly on Rhinos’ right, which led to Hull taking a 10-point lead at the break.
Hull reacted much better to adversity. They came up with a Swift – literally – response both times Leeds went ahead in the first half and held on under some heavy pressure in the second period.
Lifted by the crowd, Leeds showed plenty of passion and, despite some errors, took an early lead, but they never looked comfortable.
They aren’t playing well at the moment, particularly some senior men, though their front-on defence was strong.
They made too many number of errors and an attack which should have some potency simply isn’t firing. Rhinos desperately need a second specialist half-back to support Gale.
On the positive side, Mikolaj Oledzki and Matt Prior worked hard and Tetevano added some muscle up front. Myler also slotted in well on his return.
Rhinos failed to complete their first two sets, both played close to their line following an early 40-20 from Marc Sneyd, as first Luke Briscoe and then Rhyse Martin knocked on.
The ball came loose the third time Rhinos had it, this time from Konrad Hurrell’s grasp, but referee Griffiths ruled a ball-steal and it led to the opening try.
Leeds kicked for touch, got a six-again and then a huge stroke of fortune when Gale kicked immediately afterwards, but the hosts managed to get the ball back.
It was a terrific finish from Liam Sutcliffe, who stretched over from Gale’s pass and Martin added the extras after 10 minutes.
Hull levelled at the end of the first quarter when a superb long pass from Jake Connor gave Adam Swift a walk in and Sneyd converted, after a six-again and penalty.
Parity lasted only five minutes, until Hull were caught offside – after a couple of six-agains and another slice of luck as Myler dropped the ball backwards and Swift fumbled trying to pick up – Martin kicked the penalty.
Again, Hull hit back quickly, through Swift from Josh Griffin’s pass after Sneyd had put him into a gap. There was another six-again in that set which came immediately after Alex Mellor thought he had scored from a Gale kick, but Griffiths and video assistant James Child both spotted a knock-on.
At 12-8, Leeds were well in it, but a try just before the break gave Hull some vital breathing space. It came from a couple of interesting decisions by the referee.
First, he pulled Ash Handley back when the winger was heading for the line; a pass by Connor seemed to go forwards into Tom Briscoe, but Griffiths ruled a knock-on.
At the end of that set, Myler collected a kick behind Leeds’ line, got into the field of play and was tackled, picked up and shoved back in goal.
It could have been a penalty to Leeds, but instead Griffiths made them drop out from their own line – ruling the tackle hadn’t been completed – and in the resulting set, Griffin went over from Connor’s pass and Sneyd’s kick made it 18-8 at the interval.
Aided by a series of penalties, errors by Hull and six-agains, Leeds did most of the attacking in the second half, but managed only one try, when it was too late, Tom Briscoe coming up with a nice finish off decent play by Gale and Dwyer.
They won the second period 6-0, but that wasn’t much consolation.
Rhinos should have made more of their territory and possession, but had two touchdowns ruled out in the same set midway through, Child backing up Griffiths’ initial feeling that Tom Briscoe had been held up by Carlos Tuimavave; then overruling the match official after he thought Myler had touched down from Gale’s cross kick, having spotted a knock-on by Sutcliffe.
In between times, a huge melee erupted after Briscoe thought he had scored, but no action was taken by the officials, who took the soft option of leaving it to the match review panel to sort out today.
Rhinos received nine penalties – including the last five – to Hull’s four. The six-agains went six-four to Leeds (3-0 in the second half).
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