Kevin Sinfield passed 4,000 career points as Super League leaders Leeds Rhinos deepened bottom-of-the-table Wakefield’s woes with a thumping 48-22 win at Headingley Carnegie.
Leeds ran in 11 tries to beat Wakefield 60-6 in the Challenge Cup fourth round a year ago to the day and they were in a similar mood on Easter Monday, although Wakefield had their moments on this occasion.
Sinfield, who returned to the side at loose forward after a three-game absence, became only the fourth player in rugby league history to pass the 4,000-point mark when he converted Zak Hardaker’s try.
Rob Burrow, on a rare appearance at scrum-half, went over twice in the first half to pass 1,000 points for the club and move level with Ade Gardner in seventh place on the list of all-time leading try-scorers in Super League.
Tim Smith, Craig Hall and Jarrod Sammut crossed for the Wildcats in an entertaining opening 40 minutes but they were reflecting on a seventh successive defeat at full-time despite Daniel Smith’s late effort.
Ryan Hall, Kallum Watkins (two), Ash Handley and Andy Yates scored Leeds’ other tries and Sinfield kicked eight from eight as the table-toppers treated the majority of the 17,608-strong crowd to a resounding victory.
It was Hall who got Leeds up and running 10 minutes in when he touched down Burrow’s grubber kick. Sinfield converted from the touchline to move to within one point of 4,000 but celebrations were put on hold after Tim Smith stepped and dummied his way to the tryline.
The former England skipper did not have to wait too much longer to reach the milestone as he added the extras to Hardaker’s try from bang in front. Watkins danced his way through and found Liam Sutcliffe, who gave Hardaker a clear run to the line.
It seemed inevitable that Leeds would go on a scoring spree but Wakefield were playing with plenty of resilience and got back level when Hall intercepted Hardaker’s pass and raced 90 metres to score.
Hall’s breakaway effort did not deter the Rhinos from playing expansive rugby and that ambition earned the hosts their next try, a landmark moment for another Leeds legend.
Burrow worked the short side before Hall was set free down the left and passed back inside to give his team-mate the four points he needed to pass 1,000.
The diminutive playmaker did not have to wait long to add to his haul as he backed up Carl Ablett’s break from halfway to go under the sticks.
Wakefield refused to go away and got back to within eight points after former Rhinos favourite Ali Lauitiiti fed Sammut to score.
Both defences were struggling to prevent clean breaks on a warm afternoon and it was another, this time by Stevie Ward, which got the supporting Watkins in on the act.
The two teams continued to keep the ball alive after the restart but it took 15 minutes for the next try to arrive as Danny McGuire, only on the field a matter of seconds, put Handley in with a fine cut-out pass.
Yates crashed over from close range for his first Leeds try and Watkins grabbed his second of the match after intercepting Sammut’s pass.
Daniel Smith showed good strength to get the ball down and give Wakefield the last word, but the afternoon belonged to the Rhinos as they made it 10 successive home wins over their neighbours.