Both the Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity came into tonight’s game at Emerald Headingley knowing that it was a must win game at the bottom of the table with both sides looking to put some daylight between themselves and Toulouse Olympique XIII in the relegation spot.
Wakefield have lost their last six outings including last weekends humiliating loss to Toulouse, while the Rhinos returned to losing ways last time out against Salford after picking up wins in the two previous rounds.
Trinity were given an eight point start on the coupon, the Rhinos expected to bring home the points which could lift them up to ninth, should Salford lose their game against the Castleford Tigers.
It was an error strewn opening to the game, commensurate with the season that both sides are having. The deadlock was broken on eleven minutes with James Bentley finding a gap in the Trinity defence to cross, for his first points in blue and amber, just to the right of the uprights giving Rhyse Martin a simple conversion for a 6-0 lead.
Bentley grabbed his second on twenty-seven this time benefitting from a penalty with Blake Austin putting in the final pass for the forward to go in. Martin again added the extras for 12-0, the Rhinos gaining in confidence.
Thomas Minns was challenged high on the half hour as he took a high kick, with the perpetrator James Bentley being shown a yellow card and sitting out the next ten minutes.
A late shot on a kicking Mason Lino, five out from the Leeds sticks gifted Wakefield their first try with Jai Whitbread crashing over from close range. Lino added the conversion, the Rhinos their own worst enemy down to twelve men and giving away silly penalties.
The Rhinos ended the half attacking the Trinity line but spurned a late opportunity to extend their lead as Ash Handley threw a wayward pass and then Austin pushed a drop goal attempt wide of the uprights. Neither side had the wherewithal to grasp the initiative.
Just after the restart Handley was hauled down short after a great break and after surrendering possession the Rhinos forced a goal line drop out.
Martin extended the lead to eight points when Thomas Minns knocked on and kick and Kelepi Tanginoa was penalised after being offside as he picked up the spilled ball.
While it was end-to-end it was not through enterprise, more through error with both sides making errors with the ball in hand.
Austin put the game beyond Wakefield on sixty-nine after another Minns error when he hit a hole in the defensive line to go in. Martin added the conversion for 20-6, Wakefield hadn´t been able to score a point against a full Leeds complement.
The icing on the cake came on seventy-nine with David Fusitu´a taking a pass from Martin to cross. Martin failed to add the conversion, Rohan Smith had his first win as Leeds coach and the South Stand breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Another scrappy game but the Rhinos won´t care as they bank the two points which lifts them further away from the drop zone, and puts some daylight between themselves and Toulouse and Wakefield. When you´re fighting for your life it doesn´t matter how you win, but Willie Poching will be considering how desperate his Wakefield´s plight has become as they continue their nervous season in a life or death grapple to retain Super League.
Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker, Fusitu´a (T), Sutcliffe, Martin (4G), Handley, Myler, Austin (T), Oledzki, Leeming, Tetevano, Bentley (2T, SB on 30), Donaldson, Smith. Subs: Dwyer, Gannon, Thompson, O´Connor.
Wakefield Trinity: Gaskell, Minns, Lyne, Hall, Lineham, Miller, Lino (G), Tanginoa, Hood, Whitbread (T), Ashurst, Pitts, Batchelor. Subs: Kay, Fifita, Butler, Crowther.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, (SB), 12-4, 12-6 : HT : 14-6, 18-6, 20-6, 24-6 : FT.
Referee: Chris Kendall.