GRAND FINAL DAY LOCKED IN | Three big fixtures next Sunday at Sydney's ANZ Stadium! Burleigh and Ill...
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Leeds Rhinos' preparations for Super League XI got off to a solid start with a 42-18 victory against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Youngsters Ashley Gibson and Jordan Tansey both crossed twice as a new-look Rhinos outfit made fewer errors than their Yorkshire rivals in this festive friendly.
Leeds' assistant coach Brian McDermott handed debuts to overseas signings Scott Donald and Mark O'Neill while Nathan McAvoy and Shane Millard also made their first appearances for Leeds.
But it was lively Wakefield hooker David March who shone during the early exchanges, scooting over from close range to give the visitors a brief lead and then threatening the line on two more occasions.
The Rhinos, who will be determined to make up for both Challenge Cup and Grand Final disappointments in 2005, soon kicked into life.
Danny McGuire, making his return from injury after missing Great Britain's Gillette Tri Nations campaign, combined with Willie Poching to send Ryan Bailey diving over to level the scores before the hosts cut loose with some inventive attacking rugby.
The afternoon's biggest cheer came for O'Neill - captain of Australia's NRL champions Wests Tigers in 2005 - when he made his introduction from the bench midway through the first half.
He lasted only four minutes but produced two huge tackles and created enough space to allow Donald to scorch down the right flank and send centre Gibson clear.
Gibson got his second within five minutes when McGuire's bomb was fumbled before Donald registered his first touchdown on English soil when he squeezed over in the corner.
McGuire's superb interplay with Lee Smith saw Tansey left with a clear route to the line and the Rhinos continued after the break when Danny Williams crossed after collecting Carl Ablett's smart ball.
Former Leeds forward Jamie Field touched down for Wakefield before McAvoy and Tansey's second completed the Leeds rout and although Paul White grabbed a late consolation, this game was never about the result.
Both clubs are less than a month into their pre-season training schedules and both will take heart from what they saw ahead of the new campaign.
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this news.