Leeds Rhinos marched into the Coral Challenge Cup semi with a comprehensive 48-28 defeat of Hull Kingston Rovers in the second of tonight’s quarter finals at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium
Leeds opened the scoring when Ava Seumanufgai charged onto a short pass from the dummy half just by the posts, just five minutes in. Rhys Martin’s conversion gave the Rhinos a 6-0 lead.
They doubled the score three minutes later when Luke Gale broke through the Robins’ line and passed to Ash Handley who dotted down 10m in from the sideline. Martin kicked the goal and the score was 12-0 in Leeds’s favour with less than 10 minutes gone.
Five minutes later, a break by Kruise Leeming took Leeds from half-way to the Rovers’ 20m mark, a flowing move across the line then found Tom Briscoe on the right touchline and he danced over to make the score 18-0, with a Martin conversion.
Before 20 minutes had passed, Harry Newman’s legwork saw him break the line and score by the posts. Martin’s conversion was a formality and gap was now 24-0.
It was as long again before the scoreboard operators were troubled again. Leeds had most of the pressure during that period, but were held out until almost the stroke of half time, when Leeming twisted over the line next to the post and – inevitably – Martin converted for a 30-0 lead at the break.
When the match resumed, though, ill discipline saw the Rhinos drop down to 12 men in the 44th minute when Seumanufagai saw yellow for dangerous contact in the tackle.
And it didn’t take long for the difference to tell: Jamie Ellis grounded his own kick and then kicked the goal to convert it and Rovers were in the game at 30-6.
But Leeds restored their 30-point advantage when in the 53rd minute when a flowing move saw Leeming cross again, with Martin converting again, to push the score to 36-6.
And when the Robins dropped the ball on their own 30, Luke Briscoe pounced on it and ran the distance to dot it down without a Hull white shirt in sight. The formality of Martin’s goal meant a 42-6 score, with 20 minutes to go.
But Rovers refused to lie down, pushing up to into the Leeds half, they got a set-restart close enough to the Rhinos line for Jezz Litten to dart over from dummy half, following behind retreating defenders to move his team into double figures at 42-10. Ellis duly made it 42-12 with his goal kick.
And they kept up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, with Ellis crossing the line again, then kicking over the crossbar, for a 42-18 score – meaning they were at least winning the second half, if not the game.
They were showing the adventurous open rugby that had seen them beat Wigan, and lose to St Helens by just a golden point, in the league over the last two points.
But Leeds were in no mood to relax, with the two teams meeting again in the Betfred Super League next weekend and Martin powered over, and converted his try, to restore their 30-point lead at 48-18.
And that, as it turned out, was the way it stayed. Leeds won the game in the first 20 minutes: but Rovers did enough in the final 20 minutes of the game to suggest that the league encounter next week should be a fair competition.
Leeds Rhinos: T. Briscoe (T), Newman (T), Handley (T), Lui, Gale, Seumanufagai (T, SB), Leeming (2T), Prior, Mellor, Martin (7G), Sutcliffe, Myler, Oledzki. Substitutes: McLelland, L. Briscoe (T), Donaldson, Holroyd.
Hull Kingston Rovers: Kenny-Dowell, Linnett, Minikin, Mulhern, Parcell, Hauraki, Hadley, Lawler, Dagger, Lewis, Ryan, Storton, Ellis (2T, 3G). Substitutes: Murray, Litten (T), Gee, Peteru.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Half Time: 30-0
Full Time: 48-18
Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens.