Friday 6th July 2012, 20:00 - Round:20
|Carl Ablett, Brett Delaney, Ryan Hall,||T||Richard Horne,|
Kevin Sinfield 4,
Attendance: 13,250 Official: T Roby Venue: Headingley Carnegie Stadium
Leeds Rhinos will go into next Saturday’s Challenge Cup semi-final with Wigan Warriors in good heart after continuing their climb up the Stobart Super League table with a fourth consecutive win at a rain-soaked Headingley.
The Rhinos celebrated Jamie Peacock’s 350th appearance with an impressive victory over injury-hit Hull FC, who lost further ground on the Super League pacesetters with a fourth defeat in their last six matches.
The reigning champions, who were outside the top eight a month ago, are now up to fifth, the position from which they went on to win last year’s Grand Final, and gaining confidence by the week under the inspired leadership of Kevin Sinfield.
Sinfield’s tactical awareness and kicking proved to be the big difference but both teams deserve praise for coping with dreadful conditions after almost two inches of rain fell on the pitch.
Hull battled to the end despite an injury crisis that forced coach Peter Gentle to give a debut to Ryan McGoldrick, signed earlier in the day from Castleford Tigers, and to ask assistant coach Lee Radford to once more come out of retirement.
Leeds played with enterprise but it was appropriate that the opening score came from an error.
Ryan Bailey charged down Brett Seymour’s kick and re-gathered to set up the position for centre Carl Ablett to score the game’s first try, taking the ball close to the line from dummy half Shaun Lunt.
Second rower Brett Delaney then made the most of the difficult conditions to extend his side’s lead, taking Sinfield’s pass to wriggle free from Seymour’s tackle and slide over the line.
The score came after a decision by referee Tim Roby to penalise winger Ben Crooks for passing off the ground, but video referee Ian Smith then disallowed a try by Sinfield after spotting a knock-on.
Lunt was twice held up over the line as Leeds piled on the pressure but Hull’s defence held firm to restrict their opponents to a penalty from Sinfield, awarded for once more passing off the ground, this time by Willie Manu.
Leeds further extended their lead three minutes into the second half when Ablett, fresh from his England appearance on Wednesday night, got his winger Ryan Hall over for their third try and Sinfield’s fourth goal made it 20-0.
Hull threatened a fightback when stand-off Richard Horne touched down his own kick after the ball had squirted from the grasp of defender Ben Jones-Bishop and Joe Westerman added the conversion.
The score gave the visitors renewed confidence but they had given themselves too much to do and the conditions worked against them as they attempted to chase the game.
The only score in the last 27 minutes was a drop goal from Sinfield, who had done more than anybody to keep the champions on course for a possible double.
TA: Try assists
MT: Marker tackles
MI: Missed tackles
TB: Tackle busts
AT: Attacking kicks
AG: Av gain
CB: Clean break
DR: Run from dummy half
FT: Forty twenty
MG: Missed goals