Leeds Rhinos 38 Hull FC 6: Hosts run in seven tries to win Tom Briscoe testimonial game

Man of the moment Tom Briscoe scored a try and kicked two goals as Leeds Rhinos completed an encouraging pre-season campaign by beating Hull 38-6 in his testimonial match at Headingley this afternoon (Sunday).

By Peter Smith
Monday, 31st January 2022, 7:19 pm

It was similar to the Boxing Day game against Wakefield Trinity, with Leeds going behind early on against under-strength opponents, taking a narrow interval lead and grabbing full control after the break.

There were, however, some concerns for Rhinos, 13 days out from their opening Betfred Super League fixture against Warrington Wolves.

Centre Harry Newman lasted only 11 minutes before being taken off - because of a hamstring proiblem - and he did not return.

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Both teams give Tom Briscoe a guard of honour as he enters the field, with his children, ahead of his testimonial game. Picture by Matthew Merrick.

Leeds do have cover at centre, but half-back is more of an issue and Rhinos’ hopes of a successful season rest to a large extent on keeping Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer fit and available.

Austin was sin-binned seven minutes before the break for a late tackle on passer Luke Gale, which is something the RFL’s match review panel have been cracking down on in pre-season.

Rhinos forward James Donaldson was suspended for two games - making his return in this one - after being sin-binned over a similar offence on Boxing Day.

In the second half, Sezer was sin-binned for dissent after Hull received five successive penalties in the space of around three minutes.

Kruise Leeming, centre, celebrates his try in Rhinos' pre-season win over Hull. Picture by Matthew Merrick.

That took the number of yellow cards received by Leeds to four in as many warm-up matches and that’s something they can’t afford to keep happening when the real business starts.

On the positive side, David Fusitu’a played 49 minutes and looked very good on his first appearance for Leeds.

The right-winger rose high to make a couple of outstanding catches from kicks by Hull’s new - and former Leeds - captain Gale. He also put on an enormous tackle which flattened Hull youngster Davy Litten and led to him being taken off the field on a stretcher.

Starting full-back Richie Myler continued his impressive pre-season form, providing the final pass for two tries and crossing himself and Sezer pulled the strings effectively from scrum-half.

Rhinos winger David Fusitu'a, in his first appearance for the club, takes on Hull's Adam Swift and Luke Gale. Picture by Matthew Merrick.

Hull have had the sort of pre-season Leeds endured last year and injuries meant they had to draft in several reserve and academy players. The youngsters acquitted themselves well, but Leeds were far too strong in the final 40. The visitors took an early lead and were only 10-6 down at the end of a scrappy first half during which Leeds made some unnecessary errors, including failing to find touch from a penalty.

Hull were 6-0 ahead before Leeds’ first set in possession, Adam Swift diving over at the left corner from Jake Connor’s pass. Gale also handled in the move - which came after successive six-agains - and added the extras from the touchline. Newman set up Leeds’ first try with a quite brilliant long-distance break, before turning the ball back to new captain Kruise Leeming, who was in support.

In the set after Sezer’s conversion, Ash Handley broke up the middle and was well-tackled by man with no number Charlie Severs.

Players - at an elite club - turning out in a blank shirt is a poor luck. Several of Hull’s replacements were also unnumbered. That is not particularly a dig at Hull, it happens frequently in pre-season and doesn't reflect well on the sport.

Anyway, Newman went over from acting-half on the last following Handley’s break, but was held up and immediately left the field. Liam Sutcliffe came on as a straight swap, in his preferred position and barged over from a nice pass by Myler for the hosts’ second touchdown, which was unconverted.

Austin was sin-binned on 33 minutes, for a late tackle after Gale had off-loaded to Litten.

The Hull substitute then took a huge hit from Fusitu’a, medical treatment halting play for more than five minutes.

The half finished 12 versus 12. Myler put a foot behind the goalline to catch a kick from Gale, who got in the way of the Leeds man taking a quick tap and was banished to the naughty step. Rhinos scored three tries during Gale’s absence.

On 43 minutes Sezer and Austin - who had just returned - handled to Myler and his pass was very well finished by Briscoe; Leeds forced a drop out in the next set and Sezer dummied over; then from the restart Handley stormed along the left wing and Myler had the pace to finish off.

Rhyse Martin, a half-time substitute, converted the first two and Leeds were suddenly 20 points ahead.

On the hour, Austin played a one-two with Zane Tetevano before scooting between the posts and - after Sezer was sin-binned - Martin went over for Leeds’ seventh try.

Both were scored between the posts, giving Briscoe the opportunity to land his first two goals in Rhinos colours.

The penalty count finished 9-4 in Hull’s favour. Assistant-coaches Sean Long and Jamie Jones-Buchanan were in charge of Rhinos as team boss Richard Agar missed the game after a positive lateral flow test.

Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Handley, Briscoe, Newman, Fusitu’a, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Tetevano, Gannon, Bentley, Smith. Subs Sutcliffe, J Walker, Martin, Dwyer, Mellor, Donaldson, Thompson, O’Connor.

Hull: Connor, Swift, Tuimavave, M Walker, McIntosh, McNamara, Gale, Brown, Houghton, Fash, Scott, Severs, Lane. Subs Barron, Burrell, Johnstone, Litten, Lovodua, Rutland, Stewart.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).

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