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Top, Top, Top of the League
Posted by southstander on April 05 2007 - 23:39:22

Phew

One of the greatest feelings in the world is watching your side snatch a last minute victory from the jaws of a defeat that you'd already convinced yourself was coming. That can only be bettered if the narrow last gasp winner takes you top, or if it is against the old enemy. Tonight we had the ultimate hat-trick, but for seventy-seven minutes I thought that it was going to be a very diferent story.

This is a night to savour Rhinos fans, drink it in, and enjoy!

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

18

Rhinos

v

Bulls

14

SLXII - Round 8

5th April 2007

Top, Top, Top of the League

As precited, Ablett was the unlucky absentee from Smiths seventeen. The Rhinos bench was three forwards and a utility player, Smith knew that it was going to be a tough one.

It was a good Rhinos following, but the Bradford bean counters will have been disappointed with the official attendance of sixteen and a half thousand. This is well down on the numbers that should be at this traditional derby, over the Easter weekend, and in pretty decent weather. A sad indication that the Bulls glory hunting supporters are leaving them in their droves as their team becomes a pale reflection of their great recent side.

The Rhinos started the game attacking their supporters and into a fairly strong swirling wind. Early big hits set the tone of the game, as did some clumsy errors from both sides. Leeds went close early but failed to make it over the whitewash, failure to convert chances would be the hallmark of the Rhinos night.

The opening points came on seven after Senior interfered at the play the ball on his own thirty and Deacon glady accepted the invitation of two. Three minutes later and the 'baby faced assassin' scored again, this time after a Brent Webb flying tackle that will almost certainly see him up before the disciplinary (but fortunately any ban wouldn't start until Wednesday). At four down it looked like the home side were getting the upper hand.

Leeds were definitely on the back foot, but a break downfield gave a half chance to Scott Donald and he grasped it with both hands. Donald received a pass inside from Senior but seemed to be tackled just short of the line by Marcus St. Hilaire. His ball carrying arm wasn't grounded and he found the strength to drag St. Hilaire over the line to score. The video referee took a good look and granted the try. Sinfield missed the extras but we were back level.

Three minutes later and a Sinfield grubber was almost touched down by Burrow, this time the video referee ruled it out, but from the resulting goal linedrop out, Leeds drove the ball down to the Bulls line and got a penalty which Sinny slotted over.


2 Try Scott

On twenty-two Brent Webb again went high, this time on Evans, and saw Gansons yellow card. This was just what we didn't want. We lasted eight minutes with twelve men before an unpressured McGuire forward pass gave the Bulls head and feed. From the scrum the ball was moved left and with a big overlap St. Hilaire went over to score in the corner. Deacon failed to convet but the lead had swung again.

Bad discipline from McGuire with the hooter warming up allowed Deacon another two pointer from right in front and the home side took a 10-6 lead into the sheds. It wasn't looking good for the Rhinos, some shocking handling and a number of unforced errors were making us look like amateurs. Some last ditch heroic defending was all that stood between us and a much larger half-time deficit. I really didn't feel optimistic.

The second half was only four minutes old when Vainikolo ran through four weak tackles after a Gibson palm-down of a kick-through had given the Bulls an extra six. Deacon missed from the touchline but at 14-6 the Bulls were edging towards victory.


Crucial Try
At the three quarter mark the Bulls elected to run the ball after a high shot from Bailey resulted in a penalty. It was the wrong decision, and possibly the game breaker. How I hope it was Iestyn that advised Deacon!

The set came to nothing and Leeds broke back down field. On sixty-five a McGuire grubber was touched to ground by Gareth Ellis, although it took the video referee endless replays before he awarded the try. Sinfield goaled to reduce the margin to 12-14 and it was game on once again.

Leeds were now laying seige to the Bullsline but silly handling mistakes, including a howler when Diskin passed the ball to a Bulls player, were increasing the players and the fans frustration. The Bulls were holding on but still managing to thwart our attacks. Time was running out and I was still convinced that it was not going to be our night.

With just under three minutes left McGuire broke down field, went left, drew the winger in and threw a long ball out to Donald who went twenty to score in the corner and sending the travelling supporters mental as the Bulls fans immediately headed for the exits. Donald had been in the right place and snatched the victory. Sinfield goaled from the touchline and with just ninety seconds left we were four points ahead at 18-14.

A short kick-off was knocked on by the charging Bulls and we ran the clock down before putting in a nothing kick and waiting for the hooter.

The Leeds fans went crazy, the sweetest of wins snatched in the dying moments against the Bradford Bulls to go out alone at the top of Superleague.

The critical headlines and lambasting of the side went out of my mind and all was great with the world. We had the ground and ball to win by twenty, and made the mistakes to lose by twenty. In the end we were slightly better than the Bulls and that isn't saying much. McNamara has his work cut out trying to win anything with that shower, they can't even beat a Rhino side that played this badly.

Top of the league, at least until tomorrow night, and hopefully we'll cement our position with another win on tuesday night against the Warriors.


Man of the Match Poll

Points
Player%
10
Donald33%
8
Peacock27%
6
Ellis18%
4
Jones-Buchanan6%
2
Bailey4%
2
Burrow4%
2
Diskin4%
2
McGuire4%

See here for season standings.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Bulls
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
19
Platt
2
Donald
2
5
Vainikolo
1
3
Toopi
3
Harris, B
4
Senior
17
Evans
20
Gibson
1
St. Hilaire
1
6
McGuire
6
Harris, I.
7
Burrow
7
Deacon
3
16
Bailey
18
Burgess
9
Diskin
9
Newton
10
Peacock
10
Lynch
11
Jones-Buchanan
11
McKenna
12
Ellis
1
12
Morrison
13
Sinfield
3
13
Langley
8
Leuleui
8
Vagana
14
Lauiti'iti
16
Henderson
15
Thackray
14
Feather
22
Tansey
26
Solomona

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
06-10
Referee:
Steve Ganson
Crowd:
16,706


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