Leeds Rhinos 15 Wakefield Trinity 13 - Rhyse Martin keeps his cool to finally get Leeds over the line
A PENALTY goal in sudden-death extra-time broke Wakefield Trinity’s hearts at Emerald Headingley last night and finally got Leeds Rhinos back to winning ways.
15-13 is an unusual scoreline and it was a bizarre game, Leeds hitting back from 8-0 down to lead twice in the second half.
On each occasion, Trinity managed to claw their way level, but three minutes into extra-time Jay Pitts was penalised for dragging King Vuniyayawa down as he got up to play the ball in front of Trinity’s posts and Rhyse Martin accepted the gift to end Leeds’ five-match losing run.
Credit goes to Konrad Hurrell who set up the field position with a tremendous run and Luke Gale, in his first game back after four matches on the injury list, was in position to take a drop goal, but it was a tough way for Wakefield to lose.
Trinity showed tremendous resilience throughout.
They had four attacks in the first half and took two unconverted tries and a penalty goal from them to lead by four points at the break.
They struggled to get out of their half, but tackled magnificently and were ruthless when they did get near Leeds’ line, in complete contrast to the home team.
Rhinos had enough possession and territory to win two games – in fact, if Gale had taken a drop goal every time they got close to Trinity’s whitewash they’d have been streets ahead.
Leeds’ attack, though, offered almost nothing, though they did manage a route-one try from acting-half.
Rhinos were a bit better after the interval.
When they managed to put a move together late in the third quarter, it led to a fine try which edged them ahead.
They had touchdowns ruled out either side of that and Trinity levelled with five minutes left through a penalty goal, before the sides exchanged drop goals to send it into extra-time.
It was incredibly tense, but a poor-quality game marred by far too many errors.
There wasn’t anything lacking in terms of effort, but neither team is playing well.
On the positive side, Joe Westerman had a terrific game for Trinity and on-loan hooker Josh Eaves, who replaced the injured Jordan Crowther in the early stages, caught the eye.
Young loose-forward Jarrod O’Connor was Leeds’ best and fellow teenager Morgan Gannon did well off the bench, but it was a tough watch – a game neither team deserved to win, rather than lose.
Trinity defended magnificently inside the opening 10 minutes under huge pressure from penalty, drop-out and six-again and then having survived that onslaught, kept Leeds out again off another drop-out and penalty.
Other than an early Wakefield attack following a knock-on by Alex Mellor, the opening 19 minutes were played entirely in Trinity territory, but then they scored against the run of play.
Mellor tackled Olly Ashall-Bott in the air to concede a penalty, Trinity were awarded a six-again and from that, Max Jowitt’s long pass picked out an unmarked Liam Kay on Wakefield’s left wing and he had a walk-on for the opening try. Trinity scored again five minutes later, after Konrad Hurrell had spilled the ball deep in the visitors’ territory.
Ash Handley fumbled Reece Lyne’s low kick 10 metres out and Mason Lino hacked on, picked up and got the ball down. Leeds’ attack was shambolic for the first 34 minutes, totally wasting hard work done by their defence to keep Trinity pinned near their own line.
Eventually, a ball steal by Matt Prior on Kelepi Tanginoa led to the hosts getting back into the contest, Martin forcing his way over from acting-half, following a six-again.
Martin cut the gap to two with the conversion, but Sam Walters knocked on in the set from the restart, Prior reefed the ball from Westerman and Lino banged over the penalty to make it 10-6 at the break.
Right at the end of the half, Lino knocked on deep in Wakefield territory and Gannon and Jack Broadbent both got over the line, but were held up.
Hurrell was likewise early in the second half, after a couple of penalties and six-again and Broadbent got over the line again, but was penalised for obstruction, running behind Prior who had provided the pass. On a rare Trinity attack, Pitts was held up over Leeds’ line and, after all the dross of the previous 54 minutes, Rhinos scored a quality try in the next set.
Gale and Mellor, who got a nice offload away, worked the ball to O’Connor; he ducked under a high tackle, made ground and moved the ball wide to Liam Sutcliffe, whose pass was finished strongly by Hurrell.
Martin kicked Leeds ahead with a touchline conversion and it looked like Luke Briscoe had scored moments later, with a spectacular finish, but referee Robert Hicks was overruled by video assistant Liam Moore, who ruled the winger had not grounded the ball.
Five minutes from time Luke Briscoe was penalised for a dangerous tackle on Jowitt and Lino kicked the goal to square the scores. But Westerman dropped Tinirau Arona’s pass in the set from the restart and Gale booted one pointer in the subsequent attack.
With two minutes remaining Prior tackled Pitts high and from the penalty Lino booted a drop goal to level matters again, before Gale had an attempted drop goal charged down in the final seconds to set up sudden death.
Rhinos were without James Donaldson (shoulder) and Bodene Thompson (hip) who joined their casualty list before the game, while Trinity lost Kyle Wood to a calf injury in their final training session.
Wakefield received eight penalties to Leeds’ six. Both teams had three six-agains.
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