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4 days ago
Bradford crush Leeds
Leeds suffered a stunning home defeat against arch-rivals Bradford by 42-10 and, on a night of misery and despair, were handed two damaging injury blows ahead of next week?s Powergen Challenge Cup final.
The champions missed the chance to open up a three-point lead at the top of the engage Super League after conceding five tries in a devastating 17-minute spell early in the second half, one of them to hat-trick hero Shontayne Hape.
The Rhinos collapsed alarmingly after losing key backs Danny McGuire and Keith Senior with injuries which threaten their participation in next Saturday?s Millennium Stadium showdown with Hull.
Scrum-half McGuire is expected to recover from a shoulder injury but Great Britain centre Senior is a serious doubt after going off with a badly-sprained ankle.
Senior was twisted awkwardly in a tackle by Bradford prop Joe Vagana and the game was held up for four minutes while he was lifted onto a stretcher.
Leeds had just conceded their first try of the game and, perhaps distracted by the double blow, they went further behind before the interval and completely fell away in the second half.
They conceded eight tries in all, one of them to former skipper Iestyn Harris, as they slumped to their first home defeat for five months.
Bradford?s fifth-successive victory lifted them to third in the table after beating their derby rivals for the first time in three attempts this year while Leeds will lose top spot if St Helens beat London Broncos at Knowsley Road on Saturday.
The game began so promisingly for the Rhinos, who went ahead after six minutes when substitute winger Lee Smith, deputising for injured leading tryscorer Mark Calderwood, gathered Kevin Sinfield?s kick to the corner and easily rounded Lesley Vainikolo for his sixth try of the season.
But Bradford gradually stemmed the early onslaught, superbly led by skipper Jamie Peacock on his 200th appearance for the club.
They failed to take their first scoring opportunity when second rower Brad Meyers dropped Ian Henderson?s pass close to the line but Hape made no mistake from acting half-back following a break by Vainikolo on 26 minutes.
And they went 12-4 in front seven minutes later when right winger Leon Pryce produced a typical jinking run to set up the position for substitute Lynch to crash over by the posts.
Paul Deacon added both conversions on his way to a 14-point haul to open up an eight-point cushion but the champions struck back in injury time when Lynch lost the ball in the tackle 40 metres from his own line and Ali Lauitiiti reacted quickly to get Sinfield racing into a gaping hole to touch down.
Sinfield, who needed a bandage to stem the bleeding from a head wound, converted his own try to cut the gap to just two points but that was as good as it got for the out-of-sorts champions.
Leeds gave away soft possession inside their own half when substitute Barrie McDermott knocked on and his former team-mate Harris made them pay when he delivered a long pass for Jamie Langley to cross at the corner.
Deacon?s goal made it 18-10 and he was instrumental as the Bulls scored two more tries in a four-minute spell, each time after young Smith had failed to gather grubber kicks from the former Great Britain scrum-half.
Deacon scored the first, twisting and turning out of tackles to register his 11th try of the season, and Hape slid over for his second on 56 minutes.
The scrum-half was wide with both conversions but he was back on target to convert a sixth try on 58 minutes, which went to long-serving half-back Robbie Paul after another break by the razor-sharp Pryce.
Another blunder by McDermott gave Harris the chance to dribble his way over for a try against his old club and Hape completed his hat-trick on 73 minutes.
Leeds: Mathers, Smith, Walker, Senior, Bai, Dunemann, McGuire, Bailey, Diskin, Ward, Ellis, McKenna, Sinfield. Replacements: Burrow, McDermott, Jones-Buchanan, Lauitiiti.
Bradford: Withers, L. Pryce, B. Harris, Hape, Vainikolo, I. Harris, Deacon, Peacock, Henderson, Fielden, Meyers, Johnson, Radford. Replacements: Vagana, Paul, Lynch, Langley.
Leeds (10) 10. Tries: Smith, Sinfield. Goals: Sinfield.
Bradford (12) 42. Tries: Hape 3, Lynch, Langley, Deacon, Paul, I. Harris. Goals: Deacon 5.
Referee: Ashley Klein (London)
Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for the above review