Even at the quarter season stage, tonights match was a must win for both combatents as Hull KR hosted the Leeds Rhinos. A win for KR would lift them into seventh spot in a tight bottom half of the Super League table but a loss by twenty-five points or more would see them into bottom spot. For the Rhinos, a win by fifteen points would see them up to ninth, but a loss would cut them further adrift at the bottom.
The Robins brought Taioalo Vaivai, Robbie Mulhern, and Rhinos old boy, Danny McGuire into their starting line-up after a narrow defeat at the league leaders, St Helens, last weekend. The Rhinos were without Richie Myler who picked up a suspension after last weeks Golden Point win against the Castleford Tigers, and had trialist Wellington Albert on the bench for his first outing in the Blue and Amber.
Thr Rhinos had the first scoring opportunity but it was KR who opened the scoring after Tommy Lee managed to get the ball on the ground from close range after brusing off the tackle off Jack Walker. Craig Hall brushed the far upright with his conversion, the ball going the right side of the sticks for a 6-0 lead on four minutes.
Within two minutes Mose Masoe offloaded from the ground, already over the Leeds line, for Danny McGuire to pick up the loose ball and lift it centimetres over the line to score. Hall added the goal, the ideal start for the Robins who had a 12-0 lead.
On thirteen a devastating Kane Linnett offload put Will Oakes over by the left touchline. This time Hall couldn’t land a difficult goal but at 16-0 after fifteen minutes the Rhinos were already in real trouble as a wafer thin defence was being punched through at will by a rampant Hull KR.
When Leeds conceeded a penalty inside their own twenty, Hall kicke dthe penalty goal for 18-0, the Robins pressure was relentless.
On twenty the Rhinos got their first try on their first real break. Konrad Hurrell supported a Brad Dwyer break and took the pass thirty metres out to scamper under the sticks to give their travelling support something to cheer. Liam Sutcliffe added the extra two.
Normal service was resumed on twenty-five when Mitch Garbutt pushed his way to the line and grounded under a pile of Leeds tacklers. Hall added the conversion for 24-6.
Junior Vaivai grabbed KR’s fifth try of the night on thirty-two after Jamie Jones-Buchanan conceeded a penalty and the home side gave the ball some air for the winger to cross in the corner. Hall kicked brilliantly from the touchline for 30-6.
Hurrell found some space wide left to get his second of the night as he took a Brad Singleton offload to score one-handed in the corner. Sutcliffe was unable to add the extras into a strong wind, the Rhinos trailed 30-10 after an entertaining half of seven tries. The last action of the half was a McGuire drop goal to edge his side twenty-one points ahead.
Leeds had the strong wind at their back in the second half and KR were soon forced to re-organise when Weller Hauraki was helped off the field after a contact with Masoe.
On forty-nine the Rhinos drew the first blood of the second half when Brad Singleton benefitted from a Tui Lolohea kick which was caught easily and passed back to him by Sutcliffe enabling the prop forward to go over under the sticks. Sutcliffe added the conversion for 16-31.
The second half had been all Leeds and on the hour Hurrell got his hat-trick try, stepping out of a tackle on his own forty and breaking down the left wing to score under the sticks, improving the angle for Sutcliffe to kick the conversion for 22-31.
Jack Walker put a goal line drop-out into touch on the full and Hall kicked the penalty to take the lead to 33-22. And with the momentum appearing to switch back in Hull’s favour Walker then put his kick off out on the full, for the second time in the game.
Josh Drinkwater secured the points on sixty-nine when, after a period of long pressure, he threw the dummy and dropped the shoulder to scamper over. Hall couldn’t add the conversion but the home side were home and hosed.
Hurrell got his fourth try on seventy-six minutes after stealing the ball from Danny Addy thirty metres from the KR line. Sutcliffe hit the near upright with the conversion attempt, Leeds trailing 26-37.
Hall kicked a penalty on seventy-eight, and Ben Crooks put the icing on the cake winning a race into goal and grounding a grubber. Hall added the extras on the final hooter for 45-26.
After dominating the first half, and being alittle frustrated at having their line broken at all, KR were more than worthy of their half time lead. The Rhinos came out revitalised after a half time roasting from their coach and seemed to get themselves back into the game, but three quickfire kicking errors from Walker relinquished the momentum and in the end the home side rode home at a canter, despite the Rhinos scoring two more points in the second half.
The Robins are moving in the right direction, the Rhinos are even deeper in the mire.
KR: Hall (8G), Vaivai (T), Crooks (T), Linnett, Oakes (T), McGuire (T, DG), Drinkwater (T), Masoe, Lee (T), Mulhern, Tomkins, Hauraki, Lawler. Subs: Lunt, Keinhorst, Addy, Garbutt (T).
Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, Hurrell (4T), Handley, Sutcliffe (3G), Lolohea, Peteru, Dwyer, Oledzki, Jones-Buchanan, Smith, Merrin. Subs: Cuthbertson, Singleton (T), Albert, Donaldson.
Referee: James Child.