LEEDS RHINOS will head south to face London Broncos on Saturday for the first time in almost exactly two years.
The clubs’ previous meeting, on August 17, 2014, resulted in London’s only win of their Super League relegation season.
The fixture planners have a habit of sending Rhinos to the capital in August and in both 2011 and three years later they visited London in league action the week before a Challenge Cup final appearance.
On both occasions Broncos came out on top. The game two years ago was played at The Hive, which London shared with Barnet Football Club.
Leeds’ only visit there saw them take what should have been a match-winning lead, only to collapse late on as Broncos recorded a famous 40-36 success.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott had the Wembley date with Castleford Tigers six days later in mind when he selected his team, leaving out big guns Joel Moon, Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire, Kylie Leuluai, Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock, Brett Delaney, Carl Ablett and Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
Ash Handley and Ashton Golding both came in for their debut and half-back Ben White made his only senior appearance for Leeds.
Brad Singleton, Stevie Ward, Mitch Achurch, Josh Walters, Chris Clarkson and Elliot Minchella were others called up.
Leeds’ team should have been good enough to get the job done, against a side who had lost all their previous 24 competitive games that year.
Rhinos started well, opening the scoring through Kallum Watkins after just two minutes. Walters and Liam Sutcliffe also crossed before Jordan Atkins and Joe Keyes hit back for Broncos.
Leeds added further tries by Achurch and Hardaker to take a 16-point lead into the break and they were 30-8 ahead early in the second half, after Sutcliffe touched down.
Tries by Kieran Dixon and Mike McMeeken gave London hope, but Rhinos seemed to have weathered the storm when Achurch scored a long-range effort.
But Scott Moore replied and Keyes went over twice to edge Broncos ahead before Josh Drinkwater booted a penalty – his sixth goal of the game – to complete the scoring.
There was drama in the final seconds when Watkins got over for what would have been the winning try, but he had put a foot in touch.
London Broncos 40
(Tries: Keyes 3, Atkins, Dixon, McMeeken, Moore. Goals: Drinkwater 6)
Leeds Rhinos 36 (Tries: Achurch 2, Sutcliffe 2, Watkins, Walters, Hardaker. Goals: Sutcliffe 3, Hardaker)
August 17, 2014, Super League
London Broncos: Farrar, Dixon, Mataitonga, Solomona, Atkins, Drinkwater, Keyes, Slyney, Moore, Wallace, Vea, McMeeken, Cook. Subs: Krasniqi, Griffin, Dollapi, Thomas.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Handley, Hall, Sutcliffe, White, Singleton, Aiton, Bailey, S Ward, Achurch, Walters. Subs: Kirke, Clarkson, Minchella, Golding.
Referee: Tim Roby.