IT WAS billed as a potential banana skin, but Leeds Rhinos had little trouble seeing off Leigh Centurions to secure yet another Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-final appearance.
Here are five talking points from Rhinos’ 52-22 win.
1: It was Leeds’ highest score since they beat Featherstone Rovers 58-0 at the same stage of the competition last year. It may have been closer had Leigh kept 13 players on the field, but Rhinos showed an impressive ruthless streak following Peter Mata’utia’s eighth-minute red card. It got scrappy later on, but was a solid effort overall.
2: The first sending-off changed the game. Referee Chris Kendall could have sin-binned the Leigh full-back for his dangerous tackle on Matt Parcell and let the match review panel deal with it, but the red card was the right decision. The foul was reckless rather than malicious, but the game has a duty of care to its players and challenges like that are not acceptable. As for Matty Dawson-Jones swearing at the official with seconds left and his team 30 points behind, that was just dumb.
3: Rhinos can’t get through a game at the moment without at least a couple of injuries. Parcell could be available for Friday’s visit of Huddersfield Giants after his head knock, but Jimmy Keinhorst (hamstring) and Carl Ablett (calf) suffered muscle tears and are likely to miss out. That will leave Rhinos without their top-three centres and two first-choice second-rowers, as well as most of their props. Mitch Garbutt, however, has a chance of being available and that would be a much-needed boost.
4: The Yorkshire Evening Post Shooting Star award this year will be a tough choice. It hasn’t been the best of seasons, but teenagers Jack Walker, Mikolaj Oledzki and Cameron Smith have been shining lights.
5: Staging the game at Featherstone Rovers was a sensible solution to the tricky problem of Emerald Headingley not being available but the 3,277 crowd was poor and raises more questions about the Cup’s future.