Six days after the Leeds Rhinos demolished Hull KR in the quarter finals of the Challenge Cup, the two sides met again at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in Warrington for a highly unusual Thursday afternoon fixture.
The Rhinos were looking to cement their fourth spot, and edge a little closer to the top three, in the new format league table. The Rhinos were strong favourites after last weekends results with Hull KR having been given a fourteen-point start on the coupon.
Hull KR coach Tony Smith made eleven changes to his side ahead of todays clash as they looked to turn things around, Rhinos coach Agar also made changes as he rested a few players ahead of a busy upcoming schedule of games.
Terrific Hull KR defence from Nick Rawsthorne prevented an opening Rhinos try after three minutes. But it only held the Rhinos out for one set as Rhyse Martin found a big gap to go through the KR line and when he added his conversion the Rhinos were 6-0 ahead.
The second try came on eleven minutes with Richie Myler making the space for Ash Handley to go down the wing and ground in the corner. Martin added the extra two from the touchline and already it was looking a little one-sided.
James Donaldson, on as a substitute took a Rob Lui pass to ground with his first touch of the ball on fourteen minutes. Martin added the conversion from close in for 18-0.
There was a blow for the Rhinos as Harry Newman was stretchered from the field on the half hour after what looked like a lower leg injury.
Delightful inside passes from Luke Gale, and then Liam Sutcliffe to Myler, led to the Rhinos fourth try of the afternoon as the full back went down the middle to score by the uprights. Martin added the conversion to make it 24-0, the Rhinos cruising.
The Robins scored their first try of the afternoon as a Litten kick was taken by Rawsthorne as he knocked it back into the hands of Jimmy Keinhorst who went in and improved the angle. Right on the hooter Ryan Brierley added the conversion for 6-24.
It took just six minutes of the second half before a Myler and Handley interchange saw Handley in for his second as he pushed over the line after taking a pass off the ground. Martin added the conversion, the Rhinos 30-6 ahead.
Great pressure on the Leeds line paid dividends for KR when a clever kick from Elliott Minchella was picked up by Brierley and dotted down for the second try of the game. Brierley added the conversion for 12-30.
Handley broke the line on fifty-seven and after a set restart Gale found Alex Mellor in an ocean of space to walk in for the four-pointer. Once again, Martin was accurate with the boot to extend the Rhinos lead.
A Tom Briscoe ball steal was at the heart of the Rhinos seventh try, the ball eventually been worked to the wing thanks to a miss out pass by Myler into the hands of Luke Briscoe to score in the corner. Martin missed his first two-pointer of the game but the Rhinos were 40-12 up with sixteen minutes remaining.
On seventy-two Shaun Kenny-Dowall took a no-look pass from Harvey Livett to score a magnificent try as he grounded the ball while crashing through the corner flag. Brierley couldn’t add the conversion from the touchline, the Robins 16-40 behind.
A Luke Gale drop goal two minutes from time closed proceedings, the Rhinos winning 41-16.
It was all too easy for the Rhinos as they took apart Hull KR for a second game running and took a crucial two points which maintains their drive for the top four and a play-off place in a few rounds time. Hull KR showed some perseverance to keep pushing the Rhinos and got a couple of tries for their endeavours.
Hull Kingston Rovers: Tate, Rawsthorne, Keinhorst (T), Livett, Kenny-Dowell (T), Keyes, Brierley (T, 2G), Garbutt, Litten, Maher, Gee, Peteru, Mulhern. Subs: Murray, Trout, Harrison, Minchella.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler (T), Briscoe T, Newman, Sutcliffe L, Handley (2T), Lui, Gale (DG), Seumanufagai, Leeming, Oledzki, Mellor (T), Martin (T, 6G), Prior. Subs: Cuthbertson, Briscoe L (T), Donaldson (T), Holroyd.
Referee: Jack Smith.
Half Time: 6-24.
Full Time: 16-41.
Venue: Halliwell Jones, Warrington.