After just one outing in June, the Rhinos were looking to get July underway with a third successive 2021 victory as they took on a struggling Leigh Centurions at Emerald Headingley in one of the surviving Round Twelve fixtures.
Leeds were without Luke Gale, Alex Mellor and Bodene Thompson after the all picked up bans following the bad-tempered meeting with the Salford Red Devils, Konrad Hurrell was added to the casualty list after suffering a head impact assessment failure in the same match.
The Centurions were without Tyrone McCarthy and Ben Reynolds who both picked up injuries against the Warrington Wolves on their last outing, but Adam Sidlow and Alex Gerrard returned from injury.
Leigh drew first blood with just three minutes on the clock as the ball was moved wide right into the hands of Matty Russell who flew over in the corner to score one-handed. Ryan Brierley converted confidently from the touchline for a 6-0 lead.
Leeds had some good pressure, but great Leigh defence kept them out but a tip tackle on Mikolaj Oledzki by James Bell saw the Leigh loose forward sin-binned on fourteen minutes.
A Reece Martin break got Leeds close on eighteen and two tackles later James Donaldson took a crash ball and battered his way through the defensive line to score. Rhyse Martin was able to add the conversion to level the scores.
After a sweeping right to left move Liam Sutcliffe found Jack Broadbent to score in the but Martin was unable to add the conversion for a score line of 10-6 to the Rhinos, the home side overcoming the early shock start from the Centurions.
Within a couple of minutes another flowing move saw the ball back in the hands of Broadbent who pushed his was over the line and stretched down to score the four-pointer. Martin was again unable to add the conversion from wide, Leeds doing it four points at a time.
With a fourth unanswered try in eleven minutes, Kruise Leeming took a Morgan Gannon pass to cross. Martin was again wide with the conversion attempt, but the Rhinos were 18-6 ahead.
Leeds rounded off the half with a sixth try as Sutcliffe rode his luck, powered over the line and stretched down to score. Martin was able to add the conversion for 24-6 at the interval.
Leigh grabbed themselves a lifeline on fifty when Ioane managed to spin out of the tackle and squeeze over the line, and when Brierley added the conversion the margin was down to twelve points.
The ship was steadied again for Leeds as Broadbent went in for his hat-trick try after fast hands across the field with Tom Briscoe making the decisive pass. Martin added the conversion for 30-12, Leeds back in control.
A delightful pass from Leeming put Sam Walters through a gap in a tiring Leigh defence to get the Rhinos seventh of the evening. Martin was again accurate with the boot, Leeds cruising to the win.
Great footwork from Ryan Brierley saw the Centurions half-back cross for the third Leigh try and when he added the conversion to his own try it was 18-36.
Four minutes from time Jack Broadbent got his fourth try of the game, again taking a delightful Tom Briscoe pass to again cross in the corner. Martin added the conversion from wide for 42-18.
Tom Holroyd scored a great forward’s try as he stepped past the Leigh defenders to cap a good personal performance on the night, rounding under the sticks he made the Martin conversion a formality.
The Rhinos were always the favourites to take the win against lowly Leigh and despite an early shock, when they went behind, the Rhinos patiently built their game and took their time to pull away and secure the game with some comfort. Leeds move up to a fifty percent win rate in their push for a play-off place while the Centurions still hunt a win which might give them an outside hope of avoiding relegation.
Leeds Rhinos: Sutcliffe L (T), Broadbent (4T), Briscoe T, Martin (5G), Briscoe L, Leeming (T), Lui, Oledzki, Dwyer, Holroyd (T), Gannon, Donaldson (T), Prior. Subs: O’Connor, Vuniyayawa, Walters (T), Tindall.
Leigh Centurions: Mullen, Brand, Sa’U, Thornley, Russell (T), Mellor, Brierley (T, 3G), Thompson, Hood, Peteru, Hellewell, Gee, Bell (SB on 14). Subs: Ioane (T), Wildie, Gerrard, Peats.
Referee: Kevin Moore.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, (SB), 4-6, 6-6, 10-6, 14-6, 18-6, 22-6, 24-6 : HT : 24-10, 24-12, 28-12, 30-12, 34-12, 36-12, 36-16, 36-18, 40-18, 42-18, 46-18, 48-18 : FT.