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Leeds Clinch Hub-Cap....Almost
Posted by southstander on September 04 2009 - 22:46:32

Another Brace

Saints brought a decent following to Headingley for the match of the round, and the match of the season so far.

First was playing second with the winner almost certain to clinch the 'league leaders' title and pick up the hub-cap and two home games in the play-offs.

We were prepared for a cracker, but perhaps not the blood and thunder game that we witnessed.

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

18

Rhinos

v

Saints

10

Superleague XIV

Round 26

4th September 2009

Leeds Clinch Hub-Cap....Almost

Ablett and Kirke were back in the Leeds nineteen which was at full strength with the exception of Buderus. Wilkin (or should that be Lazarus) was in the Saints thirteen after being ruled out earlier in the week and the visitors only real absentee was Cayless. All the players that Leeds fans love to hate were playing; Pryce, Cunningham, Graham and Long - it was going to be a long night of haranguing for the SouthStanders.

Leeds did well to stave off early Saints pressure as they set out their stall with fast play-the-balls and aggressive attack but it was Leeds who had the first real scoring opportunity when breaking from a Saints dropped ball. In his hast to hold up play Pryce committed a professional foul and found himself in the sin-bin for ten, much to the crowds delight.

From the resulting penalty it looked like Donald had crossed for the opener but the video replay clearly showed foot in touch and the four pointer was chalked off. So reduced to twelve men it was down to the visitors to open the scoring, with a little help from video referee Steve 'Saint' Ganson.

On twelve Gilmour was tackled just short grounding his ball playing arm before the tackle dragged him over the line where upon he lifted his arm and plonked the ball down. Double-movement we all thought, but the video referee awarded the try. Eastmond goaled and the Saints faithful had the start they craved. The visitors were definitely on top and Leeds were working hard to absorb the pressure.

As the sides returned to the half-way line Jones-Buchanan was placed on report for an alleged 'chicken wing' tackle on Graham, one for the disciplinary to pick the bones out of.

On twenty-four we got back on equal terms after some good pressure paid off.

After going close to the Saints line on a couple of occasions it was down to returnee Carl Ablett to find a small gap and ground the ball just over the line. Sinfield added the extras for 6-6 and it was about what we deserved and we started to get the upper hand.

The game continued to ebb and flow with neither side really having much chance until on thirty-five Saints were penalised for deliberate obstruction while trying to diffuse a Sinfield bomb on the last.


Dynamite

From the resulting penalty Leeds moved the ball left and Senior put Hall over in the corner, just managing to keep out of touch despite Paul Wellens protestations. Sinfield kicked brilliantly from the touchline, not bad to say he'd reportedly picked up a fractured cheekbone by this stage. Leeds were 12-6 to the good and all was fine at Headingley.

As the half drew to a close Sinfield tried a drop goal to increase the margin to two scores but his effort was charged down and the six point margin remained as the hooter sounded.

It was way too close to call, Saints were on top for the opening twenty and Leeds had bossed the second part of the half. This was there for the taking for either side.

It was Saints who scored first in the second half after Eastmond made a gap for Flannery to charge through and ground the ball on the line. Eastmond missed what looked like the simplest kick of the night and Leeds retained a two point lead at 12-10. This was heading for a nailbiter.

With twenty minutes left in the game the Rhinos grabbed another try. Burrow picked up a loose ball, with the suspicion of a knock-on, and made a break before using Senior who drew the defence and passed to Ryan Hall for a clear run in to score his second of the night. Sinfield missed the conversion and the gap was just six at 16-10. Saints were still in it.


Brilliant
On Sixty-five Sinfield again tried to increase the margin to seven with another drop goal but again he failed as it slipped wide of the sticks.

But on seventy-two Diskin engineered a Leeds penalty on the Saints thirty as he ran at Fa'asavalu who was not square. Bentham had no option and Sinfield goaled the two for an eight point win.

The game was now beyond Saints and they were rattled to the extent that three separate incidents of 'biff' broke out causing the officials a headache.

The tastiest of these was with a couple of minutes left when Wilkin tried to 'bitch slap' Senior who took exception and downed him with a single right jab. Bentham consulted his assistants and sent Senior to the bin just before he was announced stadium Man-of-the-Match.

With a minute left Meli dropped the ball on the Leeds twenty with the line begging and it served to sum up Saints night, close but not quite close enough.

This was a great game full of passion, big hits, tough defences, aggression, fast play-the-ball and offload skill. It was the top two teams and you could tell. A fitting prelude to the play-offs and what could be a third consecutive Grand Final at Old Trafford.

Plaudits all round, home and away, for a great spectacle to entertain the 20,000 in attendance.

Fingers crossed that Sinfield suspected fractured cheekbone isn't. We just need a win at Salford (on SKY) next week and to hope that we don't lose and allow Saints a sixty-seven point difference swing in their favour against the Dragons to ensure that we pick up the Minor Premiership.

And then we start on the real business of the road to Old Trafford.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Senior33%
8
Sinfield24%
6
Peacock18%
3
Burrow6%
3
Lauiti'iti6%
3
Webb6%
1
Ablett3%
1
Amith3%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Saints
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Wellens
2
Donald
2
Gardner
3
Smith
3
Gidley
4
Senior
18
Eastmond
1
5
Hall
2
5
Meli
6
McGuire
6
Pryce
7
Burrow
7
Long
8
Leuluai
10
Graham
14
Diskin
9
Cunningham
10
Peacock
16
Puletua
18
Ablett
1
11
Gilmour
1
11
Jones-Buchanan
13
Flannery
1
13
Sinfield
3
12
Wilkin
19
Burgess
15
Hargreaves
16
Bailey
14
Roby
12
Lauiti'iti
23
Fa'asavalu
17
Kirke
17
Clough

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
12-06
Referee:
Phil Bentham
Crowd:
19,997


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