6th January 2008
Rhinos overcome Rovers
Willie Poching’s Leeds overcame a horror start to run out relatively comfortable winners against virus-hit Rovers. David Hobbs was down to his only fit seventeen after losing four players overnight and, gallantly though his predominantly young charges played, Rhinos greater physical presence and speed from the back proved to be too much. Winger Danny Williams led the scoring honours with three of the visitor’s eight touchdowns, Jamie Thackray grabbing a brace, although one of the most heartening aspects was a full eighty minutes from Ashley Gibson, who kicked five goals. Rovers, despite using three kickers, were unable to land any conversions in front of a crowd of 1,283.
Jordan Tansey, who was effective throughout, somewhat surprisingly elected to play down hill in the first half and that looked to have backfired when the energetic hosts went eight points up in as many minutes. Ryan Hall allowed the ball into touch for a 40/20 at the end of the opening set and from the scrum, fine interplay between Joe McLocklan, Tony Tonks, impressive Carl Hughes and Scott Wilson put Scott Hutton over in the corner. Leeds were penalised but looked to have broken clear when Carl Ablett swept up field only for the pass to go awry and the loose forward to limp off with a hamstring strain. Hughes’ fine run put Featherstone back on the attack and when Williams rushed out of the line, McLocklan grubbered in behind him for Wayne McHugh to score his first try. Mike Ratu’s chip over and re-gather seemed to have come to nothing when he was forced into touch, but from the scrum, Leeds pushed the home pack back, Loz Wildbore spilt the emerging ball and Thackray picked up to go over.
Rhinos took the lead from the re-start; Ian Kirke put in a punishing run, Luke Gale’s pass sending Tansey into space. He despatched Thackray into the clear and Gibson’s flick and Williams’ step did the rest. Williams took a Tansey bomb and forced a drop out from which Ben Jones-Bishop’s fine pass sent Williams over in the corner to make it 14-8. From their first penalty, in the 27th minute, Rhinos extended their advantage; Tansey’s lovely inside pass seeing Luke Burgess crash over.
The try of the match came five minutes later and was a length of the field move featuring two players and three passes. Jones-Bishop made the early ground from a kick before he linked up with Hall. He found his full back stalking on the inside and after another elusive run; Jones-Bishop again returned the compliment for Hall to cross. Michael Haley brushed off a couple of tacklers but Rovers had the final chance of the half, Wilson knocking on after more good work from Hughes.
Again Rovers made the better start to a half after the interval, with prop James Houston outstanding. Kevin Earle dummied and shot clear up the middle before bouncing away from the cover and in the 59th minute after Jones-Bishop had spilt a Wildbore bomb, McHugh shot through a hole for his second and to narrow the gap to ten points.
Featherstone knocked on from the kick off and Tansey’s elusive run allowed Williams to get over out wide, Gibson’s conversion attempt hitting the post. Almost immediately, Jones-Bishop and hard working Nick Scruton produced fine off loads to send Tansey through. Simon Brown and Gibson carried on the move and Jones-Bishop picked his way to the line. Tansey just failed to re-gather his own chip with Hall and the try line looming and Danny Allen had a score disallowed in the corner after Hall’s pass was ruled forward. Brown’s kick eluded Dale Wynne, Allen’s awareness saw him scoop the ball up and send in Thackray to complete the Rhinos tally. At the close, Rovers’ spirit was rewarded, with Houston and Hughes again to the fore, a bomb to the corner being picked up by Wynne who sent Sean Hesketh in out wide.
Ryan Bailey was again forceful in his spells and Ben Kaye produced a tidy performance around the ruck.
Leeds Rhinos: Jones-Bishop (T), Hall (T), Ratu, Gibson (5G), Williams (3T), Tansey, Gale, Bailey, Kaye, Scruton, Thackray (2T), Kirke, Ablett
Interchange: Allan, Broughton, Haley, Burgess (T), Chandler, S Brown
Featherstone: Larvin, Hutton (T), Wilson, McHugh (2T), Linguard, Wildbore, McLocklan, Tonks, Eadie (T), Houston, Richardson. Hesketh (T), Hughes
Interchange: Wynne, Fowler, Jones, Ellery
Referee: Ben Thaler
The SouthStander.com Team would like to express their thanks to Phil Caplan for contributing this match report