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Brilliant and Awful, All in Eighty Minutes
Posted by southstander on May 05 2006 - 23:35:53

Double Whammy

In the preview to tonights match I suggested that it wouldn't be the walkover that we enjoyed at the Stoop five weeks ago...and for once I was proved right. This was a Jekyll and Hyde Rhinos performance with moments of genius hidden amongst, for the most part mediocrity, and sprinkled with occasional diabiolical mistakes.

When the eighty minutes were up the cheers were more of relief than congratulation, we'd scrambled the points but were hardly worthy winners.

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

36

Rhinos

v

Harlequins

24

SLXI - Round 13

5th May 2006

Brilliant and Awful, All in 80 Minutes

Tony Smith had set his stall out earlier in the week by dropping Bailey after a poor performance last monday. He had another shock up his sleeve as the teams were announced over the tannoy and we found that Ali Lauiti'iti had also fallen victim to the 'punishment dropping' as SouthStander.coms very own Ashley Gibson got another chance in the centres. Chev Walker was moved up into second row, for many his best position, and Mark O'Neill was once again on the bench.

The Rhinos started the game attacking the scoreboard end, but for the opening ten minutes it was like a continuation of last weeks horror show from the Halliwell-Jones. Early dropped balls, particularly by Senior, meant that the Rhinos struggled to complete a set. There was no direction or drive, and the Harlequins fed on our doubt. On seven minutes Bradley-Qalilawa went over in the corner for what looked like a good try but to the SouthStanders relief the touch judge flagged that BQ had gone into touch. The visitors had started the brightest as we struggled for some confidence.

On thirteen Leeds started the scoreboard moving, somewhat against the run of play. An attempted 'Quins intercept saw the ball knocked-on and ffrom the resulting scrum the ball was moved towards the sticks. Ellis went close before offloading to McGuire to score next to the posts. Burrow kicked the goal for 6-0, a welcome relief.

A second Harlequins knock-on was to give Leeds their second try. This one was from a Mathers kick, which had looked poor in flight. A good set saw us move towards the line before Burrow stepped past the defence and offloaded to Poching for a crash-over try. Burrow converted and we looked to be exorcising demons.

Five minutes later and the vistors struck back as McLinden scored a seventy metre 'try of the game' after collecting a kick on his own thirty. Quicksilver feet, and poor tackling allowed the 'Quins skipper to cross under the sticks unopposed giving Paul a simple conversion on his return to Headingley after five years in the yawnion wilderness.

Leeds had ten minutes to rack up more points and establish a decent half-time lead, and they took the opportunity well through a brace from Matt Diskin.


Strong Showing

On thirty-five Burrow went close with a good crossfield run. O'Neill then took up the charge and ran strogly before passing inside to McGuire to go within a metre. As he was tackled he found Diskin on his shoulder and put the hooker over. Burrow converted. Three minutes later and it was Diskin again this time after a sensational passing sequence which saw the ball go first to the right wing, and then to the left before Diskin benefitted from a Poching offload to score. The Burrow conversion gave Leeds a 24-06 half time lead and we'd had a great last fifteen minutes.

The majority of the crowd were relieved at the lead, and many felt we'd perhaps turned the corner...but they thought too soon.

Within five minutes of the re-start we'd extended our lead further. Ellis stole the ball in a one-on-one on the 'Quins forty. On the fourth tackle a miss-out pass found Donald on the wing who had a walk-in at the corner. Burrow goaled brilliantly for 30-06 and there was a growing confidence that the game was in the bag.


Big Effort
With thirty-minutes left Tyrone Smith crashed over and gave Paul a simple conversion for 30-12, but eighteen points was surely an adequate lead?

On sixty-one it was stretched further. A great break from McGuire looked like it might lead to his second but he tripped himself up on the visitors thirty. From the play-the-ball Burrow was the first receiver and he drew the defence before passing to Peacock who made the last twenty metres for the try. Burrow was deadly with the boot for 36-12 and we seemed 'home and hosed'.

The Harlequins were not finished, and rather than give up the game they threw everything at us in the hunt for the points.

On sixty-seven minutes some brilliant 'never-say-die' hands allowed McLinden to cross for his second, duly converted by Paul. With six minutes remaining the Rhinos defence opened horrendously to allow Dorn to cross unopposed. As the inquest started behind the sticks, Paul made it 100% for the kickers on the night. The final score of 36-24 looked in some doubt right up until the death as the Harlequins finished by far the strongest.

For periods of this game the Rhinos were back to their best, but for long stretches they were trailing behind a side that we humiliated just five weeks ago. The Harlequins have undoubtedly improved since then, but not by enough to narrow the gap from sixty to twelve. The only other reason could be the regression of the Rhinos.

Two missed touches with penalties; numerous dropped balls; indiscipline; missed tackles; and, a lack of leadership are all conspiring to make us look a shadow of the side we were just a few weeks ago. With Bradford losing at Hull, we've extended our lead over them, and closed the gap (temporarily) on Saints, but this was more due to fortune than a good game plan. We really do look a mess at the moment, and as soon as we come up against a decent outfit I fear that we will be humiliated again.

On the plus side, O'Neill, Burrow, Mathers, Scruton and Donald all looked good...but on down side, McGuire, Senior, and Walker all looked to be lacking any confidence.

I still don't think it is time to be hitting the panic button just yet...but I would be hovering my finger over it ready. Next weeks home game against Hull FC will be a massive test, and I hope that I can still be this positive at the same time next friday.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Mathers30%
8
Burrow20%
6
O'Neill17%
4
Ellis11%
3
Donald9%
2
Diskin6%
1
Gibson4%
1
Peacock4%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Harlequins
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Mathers
1
McLinden
2
2
Donald
1
18
Gafa
27
Gibson
25
Luisi
4
Senior
4
Smith
1
5
Smith
5
Bradley-Qalilawa
6
McGuire
1
27
Paul
4
7
Burrow
6
6
Dorn
1
10
Peacock
1
17
Tookey
9
Diskin
2
23
Randall
19
Feather
15
Mills
3
Walker
12
Hopkins
18
Jones-Buchanan
13
Purdham
12
Ellis
11
Haumono
14
Millard
9
Budworth
20
Scruton
24
Weisner
17
O'Neill
20
Lolohea
16
Poching
1
14
Williams

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
24-06
Referee:
Ron Laughton
Crowd:
12,301


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