ACADEMY BOSS Rob Burrow’s coaching career got off to a winning start when a very young Leeds Rhinos team outclassed Coventry Bears 70-14 at Butts Park Arena.
The Betfred League One side could not cope with Rhinos’ pace or skill as the visitors ran in 13 tries, nine of them converted by Jordan Lilley.
First team squad member Harry Newman and 16-year-old winger Ben Markland both scored a hat-trick and there were eye-catching performances from full-back Liam Whitton, 16, and sub’ hooker Corey Johnson.
The game marked Bears’ 20th anniversary and attracted a club record crowd of 1,294.
Leeds didn’t get into Coventry’s half until the 12th minute, but then scored three successive tries – without the hosts having possession.
Josh Walters’ offload sent Newman over, Ash Handley scored off a one-two with Markland in the next set and then Whitton created a touchdown for Dakota Whylie.
Whitton made a superb tackle to keep Dante Samuels out, but Chris Vitalini went over from acting-half and then reacted quickly to touch down after Ben Stead’s kick hit a post.
Paul Emmanuelli converted, but Johnson scored a smart try from acting half before James Barraclough’s excellent offload put Whitton over to make it 30-10 at half-time.
Rhinos ran riot in the second half as Tyler Dupree dummied and stretched over and then Handley – now at full-back – provided a superb pass and Newman’s pace and footwork did the rest.
Rhinos have high hopes for prop Tom Holroyd, another 16-year-old, and he showed why with a remarkable run which led to the first of Markland’s tries. That separated a brace by Mikolaj Oledzki and Newman and Markham both completed their trebles late on before Hayden Freeman completed the scoring for Bears.
Burrow said: “I am really pleased the first-teamers looked like first-teamers and the academy lads were great – it was daunting for them but they didn’t look out of place.”
Coventry Bears: Chapman, Freeman, Samuels, Clarke, Carter, Emmanueli, Stead, Geurtjens, Lord, Beddows, Kaufman, Barratt, Vatalini. Subs: Williams, Aldred, Bradbury, Gover, Fletcher, Jackson, Jones, Rice-Wilson, Thomas.
Leeds Rhinos: Whitton, Whylie, Newman, Handley, Markland, Lilley, Spence, Oledzki, Whiteley, Trout, Smith, Walters, Jordan-Roberts. Subs: Holroyd, Johnson, Darley, Barraclough, Broadbent, Dupree.
Referee: Nick Bennett.