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Rhinos Weather The Storm
Posted by southstander on February 29 2008 - 23:25:43

Super Cool Captain

Three years ago I was sat in the press box as the Rhinos lifted their first ever World Club Challenge. When McGuire dummied and went fifty metres to score, and took us to 16-6 up, I was stood on my seat with my arms aloft. At that point I realised that I was probably somewhat out of place and vowed that from now on I would sit where I belong, with the rest of the Leeds fans.

Come tonights kick-off I was reconsidering my decision to shun one of lifes little luxuries as the wind drove torrential rain into my face in the bottom tier of the East Stand. Still, I was full of excitement at the prospect of seeing Superleagues best take on the Aussie Champions.

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

11

Rhinos

v

Storm

04

2008 Carnegie

World Club Challenge

29th February 2008

Rhinos Weather The Storm

As the weather deteriorated through the day, forcing the Elland Road ground staff to remove excess water from the pitch before opening the gate, it was obvious that tonight game was unlikely to be a spectacle of free flowing rugby.

Ian Kirke had been the unlucky one to miss out after suffering a hamstring injury last week against the Dragons but it meant that Nick Scruton got another chance to impress his new coach. Apart from that we were unchanged from the Grand Final 2007 winning side. We took the field in the yellow change strip and were facing into the teeth of the gale and the top side from Australia, the Melbourne Storm, and by heck they looked big!

Leeds couldn't have got off to a better start, as the Storm kicked off and saw the ball sail out of the full. A quick lesson was learnt that if the ball went above the height of the Western Stand, the wind would cause havoc. The Rhinos had the penalty and tried to make ground but were found wanting by a superb Melbourne defence.

The opening exhanges from both sides were more about the massive defensive hits than any flashy attacking play. The weather didn't encourage giving the ball air, and neither side could break their opponents line.

On twelve minutes Kevin Sinfield opened Leeds account with a penalty from right in front of the posts after a Melbourne player had passed after the tackle had been called by referee (and I use the word loosly). We were on our way, but you already felt that this may be a low scoring game.


Only Try

The first try of the match went the Storms way after a dubiously forward looking Cronk pass found Hoffman who went through a gap in the sliding defence to score. Turner was no-where near with the attempted conversion. The visitors were ahead by two, this was not in the Rhinos plan.

On twenty-four disaster struck. As McGuire put in a last tackle kick he was hit late, very late, so late that none of the official saw it. He stayed down and eventually had to be helped from the pitch clutching his shoulder - not to re-emerge. The Strom had set out their stall and it wouldn't be the last late or sneaky hit as Klein allowed his countrymen to get away with almost anything.

It looked like the game was going to stalemate its way to half time but with just a minute to go Webb crabbed his way left in front ofthe sticks before putting a miss-out pass to Donald who evaded the last tackler and scored in the corner. Sinfield converted superbly from thetouchline in the most awful of kicking conditions to send the Rhinos in with an 8-4 lead and the promise of the wind at their backs in the second half.


Nasty Injury
The openeing exchanges of the second half were, if anything, fiercer than those in the first. Every tackle seemed to be a monster hit, there will be plenty of bruises in both camps tomorrow.

It took twenty minutes for the first points of the second half and these were for the Rhinos skipper. A late elbow of Burrow, this time seen by one of the officials, gave Sinfield a kickable penalty and he obliged for a 10-4 lead.

Leeds went close to sealing the game on sixty-seven when a Sinfield cross-field kick appeared to be knocked forward by Abletts knees and then dribbled over the line for a score. But the video replay showed that it hit Abletts fingers and the try was ruled out for a knock-on.

On seventy-one Sinfield got himself into position on the fifth tackle and kicked a drop goal from twenty-five metres out. The Storm now had to score twice to save the game and in worsening conditions, and with the Rhinos showing determined defence it was unlikely.

With a minute remaining the Storm went close down the left wing but the video referee ruled 'foot in touch' and the clock ran down to herald the new World Champions - Leeds Rhinos.

It was a hard game which was bossed by the two defences. Storm came to spoil and rough us up, and on occasions succeeded. Leeds played a patient game and with the exception of the ten minutes after McGuire went off, we never looked flustered. The Rhinos get their name of the trophy for the second time in four years but at some cost. McGuire and Toopi both look to be carying serious shoulder/arm injuries and Senior limped off with minutes to go. All three could be doubtful for next weeks trip to the Jungle.

Sinfield was a worthy man of the match but he must have been run very close by Rob Burrow and Matt Diskin, both of whom were outstanding. Bit plaudits for the hardworking forwards who played brilliantly as a unit and kept the Storm at bay.

World Champions - that does sound nice - now lets add the Challenge Cup and Grand Final to the set!

Please vote for your man-of-the-match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Storm
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Slater
2
Donald
1
2
Turner
3
Toopi
3
Chambers
4
Senior
4
Folau
5
Smith
5
Quinn
6
McGuire
9
Geyer
7
Burrow
7
Cronk
8
Leuleui
8
Lima
9
Diskin
11
Smith
10
Peacock
10
White
11
Jones-Buchanan
14
Kaufusi
12
Ellis
12
Hoffman
1
13
Sinfield
3
1
13
Johnson
14
Lauiti'iti
6
Aitken
16
Bailey
15
Blair
17
Scruton
16
Manu
19
Ablett
17
Tagataese

Kick Off:
19:30
Half-Time:
08-04
Referee:
Ashley Klein
Crowd:
33,204


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