MAN OF the moment Jamie Peacock marked his 500th career appearance with a try as Leeds Rhinos eased to a 42-6 win over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Headingley Carnegie.
Peacock led the team out and fittingly received the biggest cheer of the night, 17 minutes into the second half, when he touched down Rob Burrow’s grubber kick.
It was a shame Peacock’s milestone, 15 years to the day since his senior debut for Bradford Bulls against Wakefield, did not come in a better game.
Five days after crushing Wildcats 60-6 in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup this was another one-sided encounter in which Wakefield, though they showed some effort, were over-powered and out-classed.
Rhinos didn’t always maintain their concentration on attack, which isn’t surprising, but they threw the ball about in dazzling style at times, particularly in the first half.
With the game decided by the break – the only remaining questions were how many would Leeds score and could Wakefield get on the scoreboard – the game petered out.
Rhinos added only three more tries in the second half and Wakefield did manage to avoid a whitewash.
But when Rob Burrow went over for the final try late on that took Leeds’ tally in two games against Wakefield to 102, with just 12 conceded – which is a depressing statistic for sides in the same division.
The game was marred by a worrying stoppage in the first half when Ben Jones-Bishop was knocked cold.
He was attended to by medical staff from both clubs for around seven minutes before being stretchered off.
Reports from the changing room suggested he was suffering from concussion and would be taken to hospital as a precaution.
The incident was not penalised or placed on report.
Recalled stand-off Liam Sutcliffe made it two tries in as many games since his return from a loan spell at Bradford Bulls when he went in for the opening try on 10 minutes.
Kevin Sinfield kicked cross-field to Ryan Hall, he slipped the ball out to Joel Moon and Leeds’ centre stepped out of an attempted tackle by Luke Briscoe before finding Sutcliffe in support.
That was an early signal of intent from Moon, who had a fine game including a spell at stand-off, as he and Hall terrorised Wildcats’ right-side.
Sutcliffe stepped up from the bench to start in the halves in place of Danny McGuire, who wasn’t risked after picking up a knock in the Cup tie.
Zak Hardaker was rested so Jones-Bishop came in for his third appearance of the season, in his favourite position of full-back and Sutcliffe defended there when he went off.
Mitch Achurch – who had a strong game – was promoted from the substitutes into the second-row, in place of casualty Brett Delaney and Brad Singleton and Chris Clarkson both returned to the 17 as replacements.
Wildcats made a mixture of forced and tactical changes.
They were without Dean Collis, Reece Lyne, Daniel Smith and Taulima Tautai through injury and Richard Mathers was left out.
Jarrod Sammut moved to full-back and Paul Sykes switched from centre to take his place at stand-off.
Luke Briscoe – on loan from, Leeds came in for only his second senior game and forward Matty Ryan moved up from the bench into the other centre spot with Chris Riley returning on the wing.
Chris Annakin made his first appearance of the season, after a knee injury, among the substitutes and Harry Siejka and Andy Raleigh were recalled on the bench, while Nick Scruton started in the front-row and Richard Moore was among the replacements.
It was the first time the Briscoe brothers had played in the same game at professional level, though they were on opposite flanks.
Wakefield were never in it, though Moore battled hard off the bench and Danny Washbrook had some good moments, including a superb try-saving tackle. Wildcats actually went close to scoring before Leeds got off the mark.
On five minutes Pita Godinet kicked to the corner and Sammut made a fine catch, but was held up over the line.
That occurred as Wildcats’ Ali Lauitiiti was being treated in front of the South Stand, who chanted his name in recognition of one of the most popular Leeds players of the modern era.
He was helped off and played no further part, which meant an earlier than planned introduction for Annakin.
Leeds’ second try came via a similar route to the first, five minutes later. This time it was Burrow’s kick to the corner from which Hall made a spectacular mid-air catch to plonk the ball down.
Wildcats attempted to slow Leeds down at the ruck, but couldn’t kill their offloads.
On 24 minutes winger Tom Briscoe eased through some shirt-pulling defence after a terrific little run and dummy by Achurch, following good hands across the line from Burrow, Peacock, Sinfield (twice) and Kallum Watkins.
Sinfield’s third conversion made it 18-0 and Rhinos were ahead of their run rate from five days earlier, despite some errors made by attempting to over-play.
The only other try of the first half came with a couple of minutes to go, following three goal line drop outs, when Moon made a diagonal run and passed to Carl Ablett, who went straight over the top of Sammut.
Wildcats had a chance at the start of the second period when Washbrook made a break, but his pass went behind the support.
Then Clarkson got over, but Sutcliffe’s pass was ruled forward and Burrow – who began running at the defence after half-time – was pulled down just short by a brilliant Washbrook tackle. Peacock’s try got the scoreboard ticking over again and Leeds added their sixth touchdown when Clarkson went over from Sinfield’s clever reverse pass.
Wakefield avoided a whitewash 10 minutes from time when Paul McShane had a run from Washbrook’s pass and Sammut crossed for a try which he also converted.
Leeds, though, had the last laugh as Burrow darted through the defence for a well-taken solo try and Sinfield landed his seventh goal from as many attempts to complete the scoring.
Referee George Stokes was a replacement for Tim Roby, who was unable to take up the appointment last night for family reasons.
The penalty count finished 7-6 in Rhinos’ favour (3-2 to Rhinos in the first half).