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Rhinos Lose Out To Brave Crusaders
Posted by Number 2 on June 20 2010 - 23:42:17

Five Goals

By Phil Caplan

On a decent run you'd have expected it to be business as usual at Headingley this afternoon as the Crusaders rolled into town. But this is a Brian Noble coached side and past experience knows that he always has something up his sleeve for the Rhinos and again today he pulled a rabbit out of the hat

Read all about it here...

26

Rhinos

v

Crusaders

32

Super League XV - Round 18

20th June 2010

Rhinos Lose Out To Brave Crusaders

Crusaders coach Brian Noble – who can barely disguise his love affair with Headingley Carnegie stadium, where he has traditionally masterminded memorable results – remarked in the lead up to this encounter that it would be a measure as to how far his eclectic band of gladiators had come. Hastily thrown together, they played Rhinos on the opening night of the 2010 season and were competitive for an hour on their debut in new surroundings.

Come Round 18 and playing the in-form side in the competition - who would have gone fourth with a sixth successive win - Crusaders deservedly came up with the biggest victory in their history and in some style. That made them a host more friends; their commitment, willingness to work for each other and to their strengths harrying the more usually composed Rhinos into uncomfortably chasing the game. Even without recognised half backs in Michael Witt and Jarrod Sammut, the visitors induced panic in the home ranks, something which very few have achieved in recent seasons.

It was summed up in the final minute with Crusaders holding a six point lead and Leeds trying to carve out an equalising score. Jamie Peacock looked for a player in motion, the ball fell through the hands of Lee Smith and Peter Lupton gathered to send Jason Chan on a long run to clear the danger ably supported by Lloyd White; game over. That was other pleasing nub of the Welshmen’s success, a combination of outstanding play reading in often unfamiliar positions, characterised again by the excellent Rhys Hanbury; wily experience to take the right options at the correct time exemplified by skipper Clinton Schifcofske; unceasing graft seen in the work of Chan and two-try Weller Hauraki and, perhaps most importantly, significant contributions from the bench from local boys White, in particular, and fellow stand out Ben Flower.

Conditions could not have been more of a contrast to the opening night and both sides showed a willingness to keep the ball moving which produced nine tries. Leeds were without Brent Webb but gave a rare start to compatriot Greg Eastwood, along with the return of their England quartet; Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Ryan Bailey also back from injury to give Brian McClennan some welcome selection choices - youngster Chris Clarkson retaining his spot. As well as their chief playmakers, Crusaders were without Gareth Thomas who failed to recover from the groin injury he suffered against the Bulls.

Rhinos’ enigmatic performance was encapsulated by their skipper Kevin Sinfield who put the kick off to the game out on the full and twice saw the ball find the touchline from passes rather than a hand yet also produced two stunning try saving tackles on his own line to deny tries; halting Vince Mellars on both occasions, place kicked superbly and led his side’s second half revival. The hosts had an ideal start, Danny McGuire wrapping around Carl Ablett who got the ball free, McGuire’s lobbed pass allowing Ryan Hall – who ran hard and strong and made himself available throughout - the space to step inside Schifcofske.

Over-playing and an inability to break down a suffocating defence line – Nick Youngquest intercepting a seemingly try-bound pass to Brett Delaney from Scott Donald - prevented Rhinos increasing their lead. The excellent Hanbury took decisive advantage of the home hesitation as increasing cries of ‘uggy, uggy, oy, oy’ from around the Welsh flags wafted across from the Western Terrace. Having twice provided choice passes, the makeshift scrum half wiggled his hips and motored clear, positing Mellars to the line where he improved the angle by stepping inside the sliding cover.

Six minutes later and the visitors were deservedly ahead on the back of a penalty for ball stealing around half way. Peter Lupton and Hanbury combined on the left with Mellars, Jordan James bringing Schifcofske into the play on the right before White’s flat pass with his first meaningful touch – intelligently filling in at acting half back - saw Adam Peek stampede across near the posts to make it 12-6. Schifcofske attempted a drop goal in the 37th minute to extend the lead to two scores but was wide under pressure from lively Paul McShane and in the final play of the half Crusaders were caught collecting the ball in an offside position from a McShane dart and Sinfield took the two points as the hooter sounded.

As they had in the first half, Crusaders showed their attacking intent with a short kick off at the start of the second period and after Chan on Kylie Leuluai and Peter Lupton to deny Delaney from a McGuire pass, had held the visiting line, they struck. Smith lost the ball in a promising position and Keith Senior was penalised for impeding a runner chasing a Hanbury kick and, from the heartening tap penalty, James’ delightful disguised, flat pass sent Hauraki to the posts. Two tries in three minutes in virtually the same spot wrested the initiative back to the hosts who led going into the hour mark. First Sinfield’s early ball saw Smith make the most of a gap left when Mellars half turned to the outside and, following a Jamie Jones-Buchanan 40 metre charge from a tap penalty, McGuire and Sinfield - retaining his balance and presence - combined to put Donald over out wide. On both occasions Sinfield nailed the conversion from touch in a masterclass of goal kicking on both sides.

From the kick off, a three man tackle that injured Leuluai, causing him to take no further part, was put on report and a penalty conceded in front on the last tackle by Leeds gave Schifcofske the chance to level with 13 minutes remaining. In the set from the re-start, McGuire halted Dyer as Lincoln Withers made good short side metres; Lupton and Mark Bryant sending Hauraki through Smith’s challenge to the posts. Crusaders earned more credit by not going for goal 40 metres out after a high tackle and should have sewn the game up when Hanbury deservedly ghosted over only to be harshly brought back following interference from James on Ian Kirke.

That seemed costly when, after Eastwood broke dangerously only to pass to Hauraki, Sinfield’s excellent long ball to Donald engineered a try and equalising score back on the inside for Delaney. Again, though, the visitors earned plus points from those who value entertainment with their winning score, fashioned on the back of a dropped ball by Jones-Buchanan from a risky Sinfield pass. With the big, by now animated crowd expecting them to work for a drop goal; White, Lupton and Chan getting into position ‘A’, they chose to keep the ball moving out wide and Mellars grabbed his second touchdown, Schifcofske crowing a majestic win with an imperious touchline conversion.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
8
Ablett25%
8
Hall25%
8
Peacock25%
4
Eastwood13%
4
Smith13%

See here for season standings.



Match Facts

Rhinos
Crusaders
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
28
Smith
1
26
Schifcofske
6
2
Donald
1
2
Youngquest
3
Delaney
1
3
Martin
4
Senior
4
Mellars
2
5
Hall
1
14
Dyer
13
Sinfield
5
23
Lupton
6
McGuire
27
Hanbury
8
Leuluai
8
O'Hara
9
Buderus
9
Withers
10
Peacock
10
Bryant
15
Eastwood
11
Hauraki
2
18
Ablett
12
Chan
27
Clarkson
16
Winterstein
17
Kirke
17
Peek
1
11
Jones-Buchanan
19
James
16
Bailey
20
Flower
25
McShane
21
White

Kick Off:
15:00
Half-Time:
08-12
Referee:
Robert Hicks
Crowd:
14,371


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