TWO BRILLIANT tries from stand-in half-back Joel Moon were the highlight of Leeds Rhinos’ biggest-ever winning score at Hull.
The 52-24 victory was achieved through a very good team performance. Leeds built a big lead with a ruthless first-half performance, toughed it out for a spell in the second half and then finished strongly when Hull seemed capable of mounting a fightback.
Moon started as a pivot for the fifth successive game and formed a particularly effective partnership with Danny McGuire, who also had a fine game.
Sadly, a – probably the – major talking point was the performance of referee James Child.
He was appointed to a second successive Rhinos game, despite failing to send Ben Westwood – who subsequently received a four-match ban – in the previous week’s defeat at Warrington and awarding the home team a try from a knock-on.
The result was predictable chaos. A game of no real niggle produced a constant stream of penalties and three yellow cards, including both captains being sin-binned in quick succession after team warnings.
The penalty count was 6-4 in Leeds’ favour in the first half and finished 12-9 to the visitors. The players – particularly Hull’s – were getting very frustrated by the end and Mahe Fonua was yellow-carded for dissent in the final moments.
An injury to Ashton Golding will be a concern, the good news was a successful return for Stevie Ward and especially Keith Galloway.
Ward had missed six games due to a hamstring issue and Galloway made an earlier than expected return from the Achilles tear he suffered in the penultimate game of last season.
With Jimmy Keinhorst facing up to three months out due to damaged ligaments in a hand, Liam Sutcliffe took his fifth different place on the teamsheet, having been at stand-off, scrum-half, substitute and second-row previously this term.
Sutcliffe passed a head test after being concussed against Warrington and had a strong game, kicking nine goals from 11 attempts.
Matt Parcell started at hooker, with Rob Burrow dropping to the bench. Brett Delaney also came into the run-on 13 and had his best game of the season.
Anthony Mullally scored a memorable try in only the second start of his 27 Rhinos appearances, at loose-forward, in place of knee injury victim Carl Ablett who is expected to be out for around eight weeks.
Jordan Baldwinson, who was unlucky to be dropped two weeks ago, returned on the bench, replacing Josh Walters. He warmed up as 18th man, despite not being in the 19-man squad.
Moon dropped the ball close to the line early on after a couple of penalties and a drop-out, though that was justice as the officials missed a forward pass in the build-up.
But Hull turned the ball straight back over and this time Rhinos made the pressure count with a stylish try, McGuire dancing through after a one-two between Parcell – who was again excellent – and Adam Cuthbertson.
Sutcliffe added the extras, but Leeds were quickly caught offside and in the resulting set Steve Michaels got above Ryan Hall to touch down from Albert Kelly’s kick and Marc Sneyd levelled with a touchline conversion.
Parcell ducked over from acting-half, but was held up and shoved back by Jamie Shaul and then Cuthbertson got over, but the ball was stolen before he could get it down.
Rhinos tapped the penalty, from in front of the posts and the attacking approach paid off when Hall went over from McGuire’s outstanding long pass and Sutcliffe landed a terrific conversion from wide out.
Leeds got a penalty in the next set and Parcell scooted in from acting-half for a try which Sutcliffe again improved to make it 18-6 on 18 minutes.
It got better. Hull had only been near Leeds’ line once and butchered a chance when Josh Griffin found a gap, but couldn’t reach Shaul with his pass.
Leeds countered and on the last, Delaney’s kick came off a Hull foot to Moon and he ghosted through the defence for a remarkable try. The conversion made it 24-6, but Leeds conceded a forward pass from the restart and Scott Taylor barged through, though the defenders – Parcell in particular – were adamant he had not got the ball down. Sneyd’s goal cut the gap to 12 points.
That flattered Hull, but Leeds got the sort of interval advantage they deserved courtesy of a another brilliant finish by Moon, from McGuire’s pass, three minutes before the break.
Hall broke clear from a Golding’s tap after a kick by Sneyd was too strong. The defence closed him down and Parcell, who was in support, but McGuire found Moon and he put on some footwork before the line and then stretched over.
Sutcliffe’s kick was off-target, but he made it 30-12 with a penalty after the hooter, following interference on Mullally. That came from a scrum in Hull’s half. Kallum Watkins seemed to lose possession, but the officials ruled Sneyd had stripped the ball one-on-one.
Sutcliffe was bundled into touch at the corner early in the second half and a try then would probably have sealed it.
But instead Hull hit back in sensational style when Shaul broke clear on halfway and rounded Golding – who was struggling with a thigh injury and went off moments later – for a brilliant try which Sneyd converted.
Sutcliffe missed with a long-range penalty attempt, but following the drop out had another chance, from slightly nearer following a high tackle on McGuire and this time he landed it.
Hull got the ball back from the re-start, Leeds were penalised for holding down and McGuire was sin-binned.
Rhinos had been placed on a team warning after three successive penalties before the two kicked for goal by Sutcliffe.
Mark Minichiello went over in the next set and Sneyd converted, but things were evened up almost immediately with two penalties to Leeds, a Hull team warning, another Rhinos penalty and a yellow card for Gareth Ellis.
Sutcliffe took the two from that one and converted after Watkins forced his way over following good work by Galloway.
That made it 40-24 and effectively ended Hull’s hopes, but Leeds kept the hammer down.
Mitch Garbutt went in for his first try of the season from a pass by Mullally, who romped over himself after Fonua went off. Sutcliffe converted the first of those and Burrow took over to complete the scoring and Leeds’ highest score against Super League opposition since the Challenge Cup final rout of Hull KR in August, 2015.