LEEDS RHINOS under-19s emerged with credit from a 38-24 loss to Australian Schoolboys at Headingley Carnegie last night.
Leeds are early in pre-season while the giant Aussies had already played twice on tour.
That showed early on as the Schoolboys’ pack dominated, but Rhinos competed well after a disastrous opening and ‘won’ the second half.
Creative scrum-half Jordan Lilley and pacy full-back Ashton Golding were outstanding for Rhinos and prop Robbie Mulhern had some good moments.
Names worth remembering on the Schoolboys side – made up of players aged 17/18 – include full-back Gideon Gela, scrum-half Connor Tracey and hooker Jacob Liddle.
On eight minutes Golding almost cut through, but was brilliantly tackled just short by Connor Cox and on the next play Rhinos were penalised for obstruction. The next time Leeds had possession was 10 later, when they trailed 22-0 to tries by Liddle, John Olive, Keenan Yorston and Gela.
It could have developed into a rout, but credit to Rhinos – who began to play with spirit and enterprise – for making a game of it after Leeds’ Elliot Minchella and Tyrell Fulamano, of the Schoolboys, were sin-binned followng a melee on the half hour.
Golding went over off a kick by Lilley, who converted, but Nat Butcher touched down on the last play of the half to make it 28-6 at the break.
Leeds scored twice at the start of the second half as Mulhern’s terrific offload was finished by Ben Frankland and then a brilliant pass by Lilley put Brierley over.
Lilley converted both to make it a 10-point ball game and it might have got even closer had a pass by Ward not been ruled forward. Latrell Mitchell scored for the Schoolboys in the next set and Ash Nisbet added a try, to which Tracey kicked his fifth conversion.
Leeds finished on a high with a brilliant try, created by Frankland and Thomas Minns and scored by Josh Walters, with Lilley adding his fourth goal.
Leeds Rhinos academy: Golding, Brierley, Minns, Norfolk, Handley, Sutcliffe, Lilley, Mulhern, R Ward, Baldwinson, Minchella, Walters, Milton. Subs (all used) Frankland, Tonks, Sanderson, Hallas, Barker.
Australian Schoolboys: Gela, Cox, Yorston, Fuiamaono, Olive, Dargan, Tracey, Schonig, Liddle, Amone, Stone, Nisbet. Subs (all used) Brailey, Mitchell, Clarke, Host, Sele, Robson.
Referee: Jonathan Roberts.