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Winning Start to Title Defence
Posted by southstander on February 06 2009 - 23:22:02

Massive

It was a game which perhaps should not have taken place as summer rugby 2009 was hit by an opening weekend arctic blast. Temperatures had struggled to get above freezing all week and whilst the ground staff have done a tremendous job to protect the pitch and shift tonnes of snow, from half way up the Southstand it looked more like an ice rink than a rugby pitch.

But there were 15 thousand fans, a team who had made a long journey from South Wales, and the opening match SKY audience to please. So it was game on!

We bring you all of the action here......

28

Rhinos

v

Crusaders

06

Superleague XIV

Round 4

6th February 2009

Winning Start to Title Defence

We already knew that we were without Burrow, Bailey, Buderus, Eastwood and Webb for the opening match so hearing Sinfield announced at stand-off was no surprise. McGuire was his scrum half and Ablett took the thirteen position. Paul McShane received reward for excellent Academy outings with his Superleague debut on the bench as a mainly Australian side visited Headingley for their first ever Superleague encounter.

Leeds had the best of the openeing exchanges but initially lacked the clinical finishing which should have seen them romp to an early lead. From the kick-off the Crusaders allowed the ball to bounce dead and had to kick from under their sticks, and for the majority of the first half they couldn't get over the halfway line with the ball in hand.

Leeds broke the deadlock on nine minutes when, on the last tackle, Senior passed inside to Jones-Buchanan who found Lee Smith in space to run the ball in behind the sticks. Sinfield slotted over the extras and the Rhinos 2009 campaign was out of the blocks.

On seventeen a great Kallum Watkins break ended with a sensational offload and Donald sprinted down the right wing to go over in the corner. Sinfield failed to goal but it was all Leeds and hardly any Crusaders.

Three minutes later and an opportune Ryan Hall interception on the Celtic thirty saw him run to the line unopposed and give Sinfield the simplest of conversion oportunities, which he took to give Leeds a sixteen point lead.


4-Goals

The Crusaders appeared to have got some reward for their efforts after thirty-two when Mapp went over, but Thaler ruled it upstairs suspecting an obstruction on Danny McGuire and video referee Silverwood agreed to chalk off the try.

Within a minute of the restart Hall caught a Sinfield high cross-field ball on the left wing, offloaded inside to the supporting McShane who passed overhead to Lee Smith allowing the makeshift full-back over for his second of the night. Sinfield kicked the extras and took his side into the interval with a comfortable and deserved 22-0 lead.

Leeds defence had been, at times, awesome. Leuluai and Burgess were putting in massive hits and Peacock and Diskin were always there as backup as the Rhinos pack roughed up their opposite numbers.


Brace
With the second half five minutes old we looked to be in again as Kallum Watkins crossed but Thaler ruled an accidental offside in the build-up as a McShane grubber hit Seniors heels. Little did we realise then that we'd have to wait until the last minute of the game for the next time Leeds would cross the whitewash.

On fifty-five the Crusaders finally got on the scoresheet after a Van Dijk kick down the wing was collected by Dyer who beat the last line and scored making the Hannay conversion a formality for 22-06. It was small consolation for the visitors.

As the game entered its final quarter it started to get tasty as the Crusaders decided that if they couldn't beat us with the ball they would with their fists. On seventy-one a scrum ended in a brawl which saw Peek and Peacock sent to the sin-bin for a punch-up more fitting of a boxing ring than a rugby field.

The final action of the game saw Carl Ablett stretch over, one handed, from acting half-back to touch the ball down on the line. Sinfield added the extras and Leeds had a 28-6 win, the same twenty-two point winning margin that we had over them in the cup last season.

This was a rusty Leeds performance, particularly in attack, but more match practice will see our sharpness improve. We did little wrong in defence and on the occasion that the visitors did break our line it was thanks to a superb kick from the Celtic skipper.

The Crusaders will win their share of games in the coming year, but this one was an easy and professional Leeds performance and win that sees us get the 2009 defence off on the right foot.

With five internationals to come back into the side there is plenty of room left for Leeds improvement.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Smith32%
8
Leuluai27%
4
Diskin11%
4
Hall11%
4
Peacock11%
2
Watkins8%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Crusaders
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
3
Smith
2
1
Duggan
2
Donald
1
2
Dyer
1
23
Watkins
3
Hannay
1
4
Senior
4
Dalle-Cort
22
Hall
1
5
Blackwood
13
Sinfield
4
14
Smith
6
McGuire
7
Van Dijk
8
Leuleui
8
O'Hara
14
Diskin
23
Budworth
10
Peacock
10
Bryant
11
Jones-Buchanan
11
Peek
12
Lauiti'iti
12
Mapp
18
Ablett
1
15
Lupton
17
Kirke
6
Quinn
19
Burgess
16
Flower
22
Allan
17
James
26
McShane
21
Beasley

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
22-00
Referee:
Ben Thaler
Crowd:
14,827


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