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Rhinos Edge a Bruiser
Posted by southstander on July 01 2005 - 22:52:55

Top Drawer
In the preview for tonights game I warned that it would be a close one.

What I wasn't prepared for was the bruising battle that these two side fought out on the famous Headingley turf.

No quarter was asked...or given by either side, as a priviledged full house witnessed an absolute humdinger of a match. This was the kind of game that makes our sport the best in the world.

36

Rhinos

v

Bulls

26

Superleague X

1st July 2005

Rhinos Edge a Bruiser

With Danny Ward back from injury, Smithy reverted to the line-up that demolished Wigan a fortnight ago. Sinfield reverted to stand-off with McGuire slipping to the bench. We meant business and were ready for a hard battle.

A Bradford side stripped of Vainikolo (injury) and Leon Pryce (suspension) still had enough stars to force fallen hero Iestyn Harris to start the game on the bench. It must have been embarrassing for the lad, but shows his fall from grace.

The Rhinos received the kick-off, attacking the scoreboard end packed with Bulls fans, and immediately went on the offensive. Leeds handed over possession to the Bulls seep in their twenty and as Paul looked to put in a relieving kick he fumbled the ball. The Rhinos took the ball from the scrum and used five tackles to probe the defence before Sinfield put Senior through a gap for a walk in. As Sinfield converted well from the touchline the clock showed just two minutes and six-nil to Leeds. It couldn't be this easy...could it?

The answer was categorically, No!

For the next ten minutes the Rhinos came up against a rigid Bulls defence, but with several consecutive sets they couldn't find a way through. Bradford eventually managed to get into the Rhinos half and after Klein awarded a dodgy penalty for a ball steal on Iestyn Harris, the Bulls moved the ball right and Peacock ran over the top of Burrow to score. Deacon missed the goal but it was game-on.

Leeds were the next to benefit from the inept refereeing of Klein. On twenty-two we were awaded a penalty after Bailey appeared to drop the ball in the challenge. We didn't need a second invitation and used four tackle to drive to the line. On the fifth, JJB crashed over from five metres. Sinfield goaled for 12-4.

But the Bulls wouldn't lie down and on twenty-nine minutes they got right back in touch.


Brilliant Brace

Leeds appeared to be penalised by Klein after the Bulls knocked on. Sinfield went 'spare' but Klein had seen something that over twenty-one thousand others had not. The Rhinos put up good defence for five tackles, but on the last Johnson collected his own grubber kick to score. Deacon managed the extras for 12-10, it wasn't as easy as it might have first looked!

With six minutes to go to half time the Rhinos extended their lead. This time a Deacon fumbled in the kick and the Rhinos took advantage as a Calderwood diagonal run found McGuire in support who stepped right around the defence and went under the posts. Sinfield conversion took us into half time with an 18-10 lead, but the game was far from over.

This wasn't the Bradford who drew with Widnes, lost to Warrington and got mullered by Saints. It was a Bulls side that were well drilled, pushing the boundaries of the 'holding down' rule, and half expecting that they could get a shock win.

The opening ten minutes of the second half were not for the feint-hearted as crunching tackle followed crunching tackle. It was a sensational spectacle but you felt some sympathy for the overtime both physios will be putting in next week.

Bird, Plane...or Super Keith
Leeds eventually drew first blood in the fiftieth minute. Danny Ward was as surprised as the South Stand as the Bulls defence opened up and gave him a forty metre run. As he was running out of steam he offloaded inside to McGuire who accepted the invitation to score under the Bulls posts giving Sinfield his fourth straight conversion of the night.

We were not 24-10 up but the Bulls wouldn't lie down.

On sixty-one another Klein clanger allowed the Bulls another four pointer. As Calderwood shepherded a ball to touch it bounced up and hit his shins, without him making any kind of play for it, and went into touch. The referee (for want of a better description) gave the Bulls head and feed and from the scrum the ball was moved right for Ben Harris to go over on the overlap. At least it wasn't the other Harris!

Deacon missed the goal for 24-14, still a little close for comfort.

Two tries in four minutes then buried the Bulls and secured Leeds the points. On sixty-four, and with Sinfield only back on the field for seconds, he made a great angled run, drew the last defender, and put Senior over for his second of the night. He goaled for 30-14.

On sixty-eight a good drive by McDermott got us close and was follwed by a drive by Sinfield and a quick play-the-ball which saw Burrow put Big Ali over next to the posts. Sinfield made it six from six for 36-14.

Then Leeds took their foot of the gas, and were found guilty of showboating.

On seventy-two a high kick was missed by Mathers and Meyers collected to stroll over, Deacon goaled for 36-20. Three minutes later and Bai and Senior contrived to hand over possession when it looked easier to score. Johnson went from half-way to score. Deacons goal took it to 36-26 and the Rhinos held on for a ten point win.

The icing on the cake when Iestyn Harris, the man who failure seems to follow, got himself sin-binned for two punches to the head on Danny McGuire. A sign of Iestyns jealousy at the new darling of the southstand? It shows how the mighty have fallen!

This was a bruiser, make no mistake about it. The Bulls came to give us a real game and we had to be close to our best to get the win. Klein did his best to spoil the spectacle for both sides, and the sooner the muppet is sent back to Australia the better.

Five points clear with Saints to play their game in hand on sunday. All thoughts will now turn to packing the bags for next weekends little trip to the south of France to see the Rhinos play the Broncos for the second time in a fortnight. See you there!


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Sinfield63%
8
Walker12%
6
Ward10%
3
Burrow3%
3
Dunemann3%
3
McKenna3%
3
Senior3%

Check out the season standings here.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Bulls
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Mathers
6
Withers
2
Calderwood
17
Reardon
3
Walker
13
Harris B.
1
4
Senior
2
16
Johnson
2
5
Bai
15
Pratt
13
Sinfield
6
1
Paul
7
Burrow
7
Deacon
3
8
Bailey
8
Vagana
14
Dunemann
9
Henderson
15
Ward
29
Fielden
18
Jones-Buchanan
1
19
Langley
12
McKenna
12
Peacock
1
20
Ellis
11
Radford
6
McGuire
2
14
Lynch
16
Poching
10
Meyers
1
11
Lauiti'iti
1
18
Harris I.
10
McDermott
27
Parker

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
18-10
Attendance:
21,225
Referee:
Ashley Klein


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