Ex-team mates Kevin Sinfield and Danny Ward faced a head-to-head battle at the Trailfinders Sports Ground as the Leeds Rhinos travelled to Ealing, London to take on the Broncos.
Both sides came into the game after winning their opening Qualifiers game, with both looking to make it two out of two as they continue their quest for Super League in 2019. The Rhinos bad luck with injuries continued last week against Toulouse but they did wecome back Stevie Ward and Liam Sutcliffe to their ranks.
It was a strong London side, captained by ex-Rhino Jay Pitts, and Ward was determined to make sure that his side gave his former employers a nightmare day at the office.
Within the second minute the Rhinos opened their account when Joel Moon was at the end of a passing move to score in the left hand corner after Eddie Battye lost the ball in the tackle. Liam Sutcliffe was unable to add the conversion from wide.
Moon got his second two minutes later when he again found himself on the overlap to score a copycat try of his first after Kieran Dixon missed the tackle. This time Sutcliffe kicked the conversion for a 10-0 lead inside five minutes, the ideal start for Sinfield’s men.
A Brad Dwyer break got Leeds to the Broncos twenty before London conceeded a penalty. Three plays into the next set, Moon went over for his third try in a fifteen minute purple patch. Liam Sutcliffe was again able to convert from the touchline and the Rhinos had a 16-0 lead.
Kieran Dixon grabbed the Broncos opening try on twenty-two minutes when he pushed his way over the line from acting half-back after a spell of London pressure. Jarrod Sammut added the conversion for 6-16. London were easing their way back into the game after a dreadful start.
Luke Briscoe scored a length of the field try when he collected a Broncos kick to the corner and sprinted to the line after breaking Ben Evans tackle to go clear. Liam Sutcliffe kicked his easiest conversion of the day for 22-6 with ten minutes of the half remaining.
Two minutes later, Richie Myler broke downfield and used Ashton Golding with the pass but he was hauled down short. A quick play the ball put Brett Ferres over for the Rhinos fifth of the afternoon. Sutcliffe again kicked from the left touchline and the Rhinos were 28-6 ahead and cruising.
It was a quality first half performance from the Rhinos against a Broncos who’d just not hit their ‘A game’ in the opening forty.
Rhys Williams grabbed himself the first try of the second half when he coasted through a non-existant Leeds defence to go down the wing and score in the corner. Sammut was unable to add the extras, London still trailing by three converted tries.
Carl Ablett answered quickly for the Rhinos when he crashed over from a metre for the Rhinos sixth of the game to re-establish the leading margin. Sutcliffe added the simple conversion for 34-10 with twenty-eight minutes remaining.
Any hopes of a London fightback were snubbed out on fifty-five when Ashton Golding was on the end of a passing move to walk over. Sutcliffe kicked his sixth goal of the afternoon, from seven attempts. The Rhinos were gifted an eight point try after Golding was fouled after scoring. Sutcliffe added the penalty for 42-10. The Rhinos had their win and the crucial two points and a one-hundred percent start to the Qualifiers.
Stevie Ward fed Ashton Golding on the kick off return for the Rhinos full back to get his second in as many minutes. Once again Sutcliffe kicked the extras for a thirty-eight point lead.
Daniel Hindmarsh scored London’s third try from close range as the Rhinos eased off the gas. Sammut kicked the conversion. Ben Evans was denied a try for a double movement on sixty-six but two minutes later he legitimately found his way over the line. Sammut added the extras for 22-48.
Williams got his second of the afternoon two minutes later thanks to a superb Eloi Pelissier break downfield tore apart the Rhinos defence. Sammut was again accurate with the boot, the Rhinos lead down to twenty points.
Ben Hellewell juggled the ball on the Leeds line before regaining possession and grounding over the Leeds line. Sammut couldn’t add the extras with the boot for 32-48, sixteen unanswered points for the brave Broncos.
London had more opportunities in the closing minutes but couldn’t turn them into points.
Kevin Sinfield will be pleased at the result, but concerned with the way that his side let London back into the game in the second half. The Rhinos have eased off for two consecutive rounds and been punished by their opponents who have reduced what should have been emphatic wins to something much closer. The Rhinos join Salford Red Devils on four points at the top of the table while London drop to sixth based on a poor points difference.
Broncos: Walker, Dixon (T), Hellewell, Kear, Williams (2T), Pewhairangi, Cunningham, Battye, Pelissier, Evans (T), Pitts, Hindmarsh (T), Davis. Subs: Spencer, Ioane, Harrison, Sammut (4G).
Rhinos: Golding (2T), Briscoe T, Keinhorst, Moon (3T), Briscoe L (T), Sutcliffe (6G), Myler, Peteru, Dwyer, Singleton, Ablett (T), Ferres (T), Jones-Buchanan. Subs: Mullally, Oledzki, Ward, Cuthbertson.
Referee: Chris Kendall.