Leeds Rhinos: Elusive try monkey is finally off Aiton’s back

Paul Aiton scores the winning try against Huddersfield.
Paul Aiton scores the winning try against Huddersfield.
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A FIRST try for Leeds Rhinos was a weight off Paul Aiton’s mind.

Rhinos will travel to Hull on Thursday with a 100 per cent record in First Utility Super League, thanks to Aiton’s touchdown six minutes from the end of last Thursday’s clash with Huddersfield Giants.

Leeds, who had led 18-0 after 25 minutes and 22-12 early in the second half, looked to be heading for defeat until Aiton sneaked over from acting-half and Kevin Sinfield’s fourth conversion completed the scoring.

It was Aiton’s maiden try, in his 23rd appearance for Leeds and the Papua New Guinea international admitted the duck had been preying on his mind.

He said: “It was good, we hadn’t beaten them for four years so to get that try at the end to win the game felt really good.”

Known as a rock-solid defender, Aiton has never been noted as a prolific try scorer.

He crossed seven times in 47 appearances for previous club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and also has five tries for Cronulla, eight with Penrith Panthers and two in Papua New Guinea colours to his name.

But he admitted drawing a blank last year – in a debut season which was badly disrupted by illness – had been a major disappointment.

“It was on my mind that I hadn’t scored (for Leeds) before – last year or this season – so I am glad to get it out of the way,” he said.

“I was pretty pumped after I scored and it was good to do it at home.”

Aiton made 20 appearances last year, seven of them as a substitute.

He has been in the starting line-up for all three competitive matches this term and has been getting more game time.

He added: “The role I had last year and the way we were playing, it wasn’t my style of play.

“This year I feel more comfortable. It has given me a lot of confidence, with the team as well.

“We are learning off each other and I am really enjoying it.”

Last week’s victory was Rhinos’ first in eight meetings with Huddersfield, but Aiton admitted the performance was below par and he refused to blame the icy conditions.

“There was a lot of errors,” he said. “We turned the ball over a lot. Conditions are always a factor, but we are professional athletes and we need to deal with the conditions and play smarter. It was a stop-start game. There were a lot of penalties, so we have got to fix our discipline up. Three (wins) from three is where we wanted to be, but performance-wise we are going to have to review the game and there’s things we’ve got to work on.”

Rhinos are expecting another tough battle this week, according to Aiton.

He said: “Hull have been going well, it’s at their place and it’ll be a big crowd, so it should be a good game.

“We have got a big period coming up, with Hull, Warrington, Wigan and Castleford.

“We will review the game, work on our systems and go to Hull ready for a big game there.”

Leeds Rhinos under-16s, meanwhile, also made it three wins from three this season with a 30-12 victory over Hull KR at Stanningley yesterday.

The home side led 12-0 at the break with tries from hooker Harvey Whiteley and Dyson Nicholson, both converted by Jack Walker.

Harry Newman, Cameron Smith, Nathan Waring and Corey Eaton crossed in the second half, with Walker landing one conversion.