Leeds Rhinos 72 Barrow Raiders 10: Moon shines as the Rhinos repel Raiders
A couple of early tries ensured there was never any prospect of an upset. Barrow had a good spell at the start of the second quarter, but 32-4 at the break was a fair reflection of the opening period and Leeds kept their foot on the gas in the final 40.
Barrow were out on their feet in the second half and though they didn’t throw the towel in it was just a question of how many Leeds would score.
There was an obvious gulf between full-time Super League players and part-time ones from the third tier, though Barrow showed lots of spirit and enthusiasm, even after a disastrous start.
They gave everything they had in defence and produced a series of try-saving tackles, but Rhinos were – as expected – faster, stronger and more skilled and scored more or less at will.
Rhinos paid Barrow – who had won all their previous 13 games this year – much more respect than they did another League One side, Doncaster, in the previous round.
Coach Brian McDermott took no chances and fielded a very strong 17, though there weren’t many options with Jimmy Keinhorst and Carl Ablett on the long-term casualty list and Jordan Lilley, Mikolaj Oledzki, Sam Hallas, Cameron Smith and Cory Aston all out on loan.
Kallum Watkins was was the only first-choice player rested. Ryan Hall, who also returned during the week from England duty in Australia, came back in on the wing. Ash Handley shifted into the centres and Moon reverted to the halves.
Jordan Baldwinson was recalled to start at prop and Brett Ferres returned in the second-row after completing his six-game ban.
Rob Burrow, Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Adam Cuthbertson all moved to the the bench after starting in the previous game at Catalans Dragons.
The players who dropped out were Lilley, Oledzki and Brett Delaney, who failed a head test after being concussed against Catalans.
Mitch Garbutt, who had been set to return after paternity leave, was sidelined by a quad problem.
Though McDermott did take the opportunity to give Matt Parcell, Danny McGuire and Moon a lengthy rest, Leeds were in no mood to repeat the second-half collapse of round five, when Doncaster outscored them after the break.
Kick-off was delayed by 10 minutes after Barrow found themselves snarled in traffic jams caused by the Leeds Half Marathon and did not arrive until 2.20pm.
It looked like their defence was still on the bus in the opening exchanges and Leeds were 12-0 up after six minutes.
Moon shimmied in for the opener from Keith Galloway’s pass and in the set from the restart Handley broke down the wing and got a neat offload away to Tom Briscoe and Parcell was in support to score.
That was a hammer blow to Barrow, whose must have been to make an arm-wrestle of it for as long as possible.
The visitors didn’t lack spirit, as Luke Cresswell proved with a tremendous tackle to keep Sutcliffe out.
But a scrum and penalty near Barrow’s line were punished when Handley crossed from Ferres’ one-handed pass to make it 16-0 after 10.
Leeds blew an opportunity in the next set after Parcell burst into space, but Ferres dropped the pass.
That was only a temporary escape for Barrow as Moon scored his second, from a one-two with Sutcliffe and the latter’s third conversion made it 22-0 after only 16 minutes.
Raiders coach Paul Crarey was at hooker for Barrow when they were embarrassed 90-0 at Headingley in the Stones Bitter Championship.
At that stage a similar scoreline looked possible, but the part-timers managed to stem the tide – conceding only twice more in the half – and get over the line themselves.
They scored next after an error by Ashton Golding and penalty a few metres out. To his obvious delight, Cresswell got over from former Dewsbury Rams full-back Ryan Fieldhouse’s long pass.
Karl Ashall was laid out in back play and referee Liam Moore sin-binned Leeds prop Keith Galloway.
Lewis Charnock could not convert and Leeds led 22-4 at the end of the first quarter, as they had in the previous round against Barrow’s League One rivals Doncaster.
The try raised Barrow’s spirits. Charnock and Cresswell made a terrific tackle to keep Stevie Ward out and a flurry of penalties produced a spell of pressure with Handley doing well to drag Dam Abram down and then Abram forcing his way between the posts from acting-half, only to be held up.
Moon completed his hat-trick six minutes before the break after a scrum and penalty conceded by Barrow out of fatigue and then they made the mistake of kicking to Hall and he handed off one defender and left another on his backside before accelerating clear on an 90-metre sprint to the line.
Sutcliffe’s fourth conversion completed the first half scoring and Leeds could have gone further ahead within a minute of the restart, but McGuire juggled and then dropped a pass from Cuthbertson, who had split the defence and then Handley was held up over the line. Handley eventually got the scoreboard ticking over again on 45 minutes, supporting McGuire’s break after Burrow and Ferres had handled.
Ward was the next try scorer, from Moon’s pass after a very tired Barrow outfit – who were backing up from a Wednesday night league game against Keighley Cougars – had been penalised for offside.
The amount of time they took to regroup for their kick-off showed how little they had left in the tank with 30 minutes still to play.
They held out for 10 minutes until Sutcliffe finished superbly from a pass by Moon, who was immediately taken off.
Rhinos finished the game with Burrow and Sutcliffe in the halves, Ward having moved into the left-centre.
Burrow scored the try which brought up the half century, off Hall’s pass after a break by Golding.
It took Barrow 28 minutes of the second half to mount an attack and their effort was rewarded when Jarrad Stack went over and Ashall added the extras.
But Handley sent Burrow in almost immediately and then Parcell crossed for his second after Sutcliffe and Handley had opened up what was left of the defence
Galloway bustled over to score Leeds’ final try, four minutes from time and Sutcliffe completed the scoring with his 10th conversion.
Rookie referee Liam Moore did a reasonable job, though he was possibly a bit harsh on Barrow. The penalty count was 11-6 in Leeds’ favour (4-3 in the first half).