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Back Where We Belong...for now!
Posted by southstander on June 23 2006 - 23:39:10

SportingLife.com

It's taken eighteen rounds and a lot of hard graft by the lads, but all you doubters out there take a look at this and tell me that we are not the top team in Superleague XI...at least for the next twenty-two hours.

The Rhinos made heavy weather of visitors Wakefield Wildcats, but in the end we did enough to triumph by the required points margin to sneak ahead of once run-away league leaders St. Helens. All credit to the boys for holding on against a side who came determined to spoil the party and take the points into their own relegation battle.

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

36

Rhinos

v

Wildcats

20

SLXI - Round 18

23rd June 2006

Back Where We Belong...for now!

Arriving at Headingley, the presence of Ashley Gibson in an U21's shirt made Smith team choice evident to all. Ablett got the nod, and O'Neil made it back from injury to a Rhinos side without Diskin, Peacock and Scruton. The Wildcats Tony Smith had named a strong side, and one that would prove to be a real handful for the Rhinos. Leeds faced the Western Terrace and a rapidly dropping sun in the first half in warm temperatures with a vociferous, if somewhat smaller than expected, crowd.

Early exchenges were fairly even, but Wildcats indiscipline soon reared and gave the Rhinos the opening score. Two penalties, both for high tackles allowed Leeds good territory and a Sinfield delayed pass put Ellis over for the opener (a nice 20/1 shot as I pointed out in my preview). Sinfield converted and we were 6-0 ahead. Surely it couldn't be this easy.

The 'Cats defensive line held strong until a Sinfield cross-field bomb on seventeen unlocked it once more. Tadulala failed to gather under pressure from Walker and knocked-on. From the resulting scrum there were some nice interchanges of passing before Senior powered over in the corner. Sinfield converted in off the far post for 12-0. It was going exactly as to plan....but then the wheels came off.

On twenty-four a dogged Rhinos defence had repelled all 'Cats attempts until Jeffries walked over unopposed as though wearing a magic cloaking device. Rooney goaled for 12-6.

From the kick-off return it got worse for Leeds. The visitors came straight down field and Atkins finally outpaced Senior to score a seventy metre effort right next to the sticks. The Rooney goal levelled the scores and the SouthStanders were stunned to silence...punctuated only by the occasional word of abuse!


Best of the Season

We needed to get back in-front, and quick.

With five minutes of the half remaining the 'Cats were penalised on half-way for a high tackle on Burrow. Sinfield gained good position with the kick and the Rhinos probed right and then left before Ellis used his strength to cross for his second. Sinfield goaled for a half-time lead of 18-12.

The Rhinos must have had some half time team talk as they started the second half with two tries in six minutes.

On forty-three minutes the ball was moved left and then right before McGuire and Feather combined on the run-around to see McGuire over for the four pointer. Sinfield goaled from the touchline to make it four-from-four. Three minutes later and good work from Ali Lauiti'iti early in the tackle count allowed a Feather break, pass to McGuire and a sensational inside switch to Smith to summersault over under the sticks. Sinfield kicked his 32nd straight Leeds goal (five short of the Superleague record) to give us some breathing space at 30-12.


Only 1 Miss
The game was won on fifty-eight when a Poching break put McGuire free who jinked before being tackled and offloading to Smith to cross for his second. Sinfield lost the shot at the record when he failed to convert, ironically not his most difficult of the day. Without the kick we were still 34-12 ahead and it was game over.

There was still some small consolation for the visitors when Feather gave away a second penalty of the night for not playing the ball giving Wakefield the position for Jamie Field to score against his former employers. Rooneys conversion hit the post and came back. On sixty-nine the brittle Rhinos defence snapped again as this time Tadulala went over in the left corner. Rooney once again missed.

Wakefield came close again on seventy-two after a Jeffries chip over and collect but the video referee ruled knock-on and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief. The final scoring action of the game was left to Sinfield who goaled a penalty after a high shot deep inside the visitors twenty.

As the clock ran down to chants of 'Top of the League, Havin' a Laugh', we were just relieved that we had survived a minor slip on what could have been a pretty big banana skin. With Wigan beating Warrington tonight this defeat drags Wakefield back into the relegation dog fight, but if they play like that every week there are still games there for them to win.

For Leeds I thought that ground Man-of-the-Match Gareth Ellis had his best game in a Rhinos shirt and Ali Lauiti'tit made a big difference when he was on the field. Lee Smith occasionally looked all-at-sea at fullback, and there was sometimes immense confusion in defence over who was covering where. This wasn't a vintage Rhinos performance but we got the points and were now 'Top, Top, Top of the League'.

Enjoy it while it lasts!


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Ellis77%
8
Sinfield15%
6
Lauiti'iti40%
5
Burrow2%
5
McGuire2%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Wildcats
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
5
Smith
2
27
Saxton
2
Donald
1
Halpenny
3
Walker
3
Demetriou
4
Senior
1
28
Atkins
1
26
Williams
5
Tadulala
1
6
McGuire
1
16
Rooney
2
7
Burrow
6
Jeffries
1
18
Jones-Buchanan
17
MacGillivray
14
Millard
9
March
8
Bailey
10
Korkidas
16
Poching
11
Solomona
12
Ellis
2
26
Catic
13
Sinfield
6
13
Bentham
11
Lauiti'iti
8
Griffin
17
O'Neill
12
Field
1
19
Feather
29
Watene
21
Ablett
14
White

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
18-12
Referee:
Karl Kirkpatrick
Crowd:
13,957


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