Hull College Craven Park was the venue for an eight against seventh encounter between Hull KR and the Leeds Rhinos as Richard Agar went up against former Leeds coach Tony Smith with both sides looking to kick-start a season which has seen both sides with a just a single win in their opening three fixtures of 2021.
The home side gave a debut to their new signing from the Paramatta Eels, star centre Brad Takairangi, while the Rhinos welcomed back Richie Myler, Konrad Hurrell, Ash Handley, Bodene Thompson and King Vuniyayawa as they return to a much stronger looking line-up after suffering a multitude of early season injuries.
The Rhinos were penalised by six points on the handicap coupon and were clear favourites for the victory.
When the Rhinos spilled the ball twice in their opening two sets and presented KR with back-to-back penalties to pile on the pressure. A kick to the corner was knocked on by Brad Takarangi as he stooped to score, the Rhinos surviving some self-inflicted pressure.
With ten minutes on the clock Ryan Hall scored against his former employers after Tom Briscoe was unable to take a high ball, and with a kind bounce Hall collected and went in for the four pointer from just five metres. The touchline kick from Jordan Abdull went wide of the uprights.
Another former Leeds player Matt Parcell extended the Robins lead as he scooted and burrowed his way to the line from acting half back to double the lead. Abdull managed to find the target from ten metres inside the touchline for a 10-0 lead.
The third KR try came on twenty-six as Kane Linnett picked up a loose ball and ran to the line. Abdull added the conversion for a 16-0 lead.
The Rhinos opened their account on twenty-nine through supersub Brad Dwyer who benefitted from a quick play-the-ball to scoot over by the sticks. Ash Handley took the kicking duties with Rhyse Martin off the field and made no mistake.
KR went further ahead on fifty-three when Linnett took a short pass from Parcell and found a way through some poor Rhinos tackling for the fourth try of the night. Abdull couldn’t add the conversion from wide, the Robins 20-6 ahead and it was looking like a long way back for Leeds.
With thirteen left the Rhinos were penalised for a forward pass with the try line open and Richie Myler opened his mouth and found himself taking a ten-minute break. Within a minute Linnett completed his hat-trick with the extra man counting. Abdull added the conversion for a 26-6 lead, the points going to the Robins as the Rhinos registered their third consecutive Super League loss.
This was a tremendous win for Hull KR and thoroughly deserved as they outplaced a Rhinos side who had no answer to their fast handling and ingenuity in attack. KR momentarily jump into the top six, ahead of a Warrington Wolves side who travel to Perpignan tomorrow. Richard Agar has some work to do to salvage anything from a disappointing Leeds start to the season.
Hull KR: Quinlan, Hall (T), Kenny-Dowall, Takairangi, Ryan, Milnes, Abdull (3G), Vete, Parcell (T), King, Linnett (3T), Johnson, Lawler. Subs: Storton, Hadley, Litten, Mustapha.
Leeds Rhinos: Handley (G), Briscoe L, Hurrell, Sutcliffe A, Briscoe T, Myler (SB on 67), Eastmond, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Donaldson. Subs: Dwyer (T), Vuniyayawa, Thompson, Broadbent.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.
Score Progression: 4-0, 8-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 16-4, 16-6 : HT : 20-6, 24-6, 26-6 : FT.