Leeds Rhinos 12 Hull KR 0: Match report as JJB's spell in charge ends with second successive victory

The short, six-game reign of Jamie Jones-Buchanan as Leeds Rhinos’ interim-coach ended on a high note when a hugely under-strength team completed a second successive win with a 12-0 shutout of Hull KR at Headingley on Friday night.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 11:02 am

Rhinos were without a whole team of players, with 13 missing through injury or suspension and it wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but it was dogged, their discipline was excellent and they rarely looked like conceding.

The win rocketed Rhinos two places up the Betfred Super League table, to the dizzying heights of ninth.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but Leeds have come a long way under Jones-Buchanan and he will hand over to Rohan Smith, who arrives on Tuesday, with confidence growing and performances on the up.

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Matt Prior touches down to give Rhinos an early lead. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The visitors came into the game in outstanding form, on a six-match winning run, but - though they would probably deny it - their minds seemed to be on their Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final against Huddersfield Giants at Elland Road a week today.

With Leeds holding only a 6-0 half-time lead it was obvious the next try - which looked more like a matter of it, rather than when - would be important.

Rhinos got it soon after the break to go 10-0 up and the result wasn’t really in doubt after that.

It was a strong team performance, but special mention goes to Bodene Thompson who had a fine game off the bench.

Morgan Gannon scores Rhinos' second try. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

There was just one try in the first half and it came in freak fashion after four minutes.

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Both Prior and Martin, out of position at centre, also had big games.

It was a rare good start for Leeds and the sort of incident which hasn’t gone their way very often this year.

Rhinos celebrate a second successive win. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

After that, the opening period was end-to-end, with both teams creating half-chances - for example when Jack Broadbent, another top performer, sent Ash Handley on a run, but Crooks made the tackle - without applying sustained pressure.

When Rhinos managed to force a drop out, Rovers - cleverly - kicked it short and got the ball back.

The Robins made a series of errors at Leeds’ end of the field, with Elliot Minchella and Korbin Sims being guilty of a couple of howlers, but neither team’s skill was of a high level.

Leeds received the first four penalties and eight - including a ‘double’ for dissent - the Rovers’ two in the first half.

The fourth came at a scrum in front of the Robins’ posts and the kicking tee was sent on before realisation dawned it was a differential penalty, so going for goal wasn’t an option.

Rhinos could have scored from the tap, but Broadbent’s pass towards the left swing wasn’t precise enough and went off Ash Handley into touch.

A Crooks break came to nothing when his pass to Ethan Ryan sailed forward, then Handley was agonisingly close to intercepting from Lachlan Coote with a clear 80 metre run to the line, but he couldn’t quite hold on.

Crooks also had the final chance of the half when he made a clean break, but Broadbent pulled him down.

Former Rhinos hero Ryan Hall - in his first game at Headingley as an away player - got over the line early in the second period, but Sam Wood’s pass was forward.

The second try - when it finally came, eight minutes after the interval - was similar to the opener, coming from a kick.

Kruise Leeming grubbered on the last, the bounce deceived the defenders and Morgan Gannon followed up to score, though Martin’s conversion attempt drifted wide.

Leeming started in the halves alongside Austin, with Brad Dwyer at hooker, but reverted to his specialist acting-half role when Jack Sinfield was introduced off the bench midway through the first half.

Gannon, still just 18, has been a shining light this season and is going to be an outstanding player in a few years’ time. He’s not too shabby now.

Moments after Gannon’s try, Leeming chased his own kick and was involved in a huge collision with Coote as the full-back gathered the ball.

Both players went off for a head injury assessment and neither returned. That’s not so much of a worry for Rhinos with two weeks until their next game, but Coote will be ruled out of the semi-final, potentially along with Wood who hobbled off a few minutes later.

Rovers had butchered a chance just before that when Rowan Milnes ran the ball on the last and shipped it left to Wood, but instead of passing to Hall, he kicked and Handley made the catch in goal.

Just before the hour Leeds forced a drop out, Rovers went short again, but this time Rhinos camer up with it and in the resulting set Martin took the two from a penalty after a high shot on Broadbent.

Rhinos almost sealed the win with nine minutes left after some outstanding passing across the line, byt Handley was tackled into touch, from Max Simpson’s pass, just short.

Rhinos didn’t have to do a lot of tackling on their own line, but with six minutes left Ashton Sims got over it and was held up.

The visitors were down to 12 men by that stage, with Albert Vete having been sin-binned for a high tackle in Cameron Smith.

Two minutes from time Rovers took another short drop out and Simpson caught it to go over, but the ball hadn’t gone 10 metres and Hull KR received only their fourth penalty, to Rhinos’ 10.