Rhinos fight hard for Broncos win

Rhinos fight hard for Broncos win

Great Britain star Danny McGuire grabbed four tries as engage Super League champions Leeds Rhinos enjoyed a comfortable 44-24 victory over the London Broncos at Headingley.

The young half-back has struggled to hit the heights he enjoyed last term because of injury but he showed he is back to his best by putting in a masterclass in support play to deny a spirited Broncos effort.

After an afternoon of torrential rain in Leeds, the match had kicked off in bright sunshine.

Initially, it was the visitors who took advantage of the conditions with their enterprising attack keeping the ball available as much as possible as the home side struggled to find their usual rhythm.

Fine scores to Jon Wells and Luke Dorn had shocked the home faithful early on, although the Rhinos will point to four missed conversions as proof they should have held a much more commanding lead than 16-12 at the break.

Despite only holding a four-point advantage at the interval, the Rhinos cut loose at the beginning of the second half and fully deserved the two points that extend their lead at the top of the table.

Leeds had taken the lead with just five minutes on the clock and it owed much to the speed of young McGuire.

The half-back took the ball from a Rhinos scrum and darted for the left-hand side where he offloaded at just the right time to ensure Marcus Bai could squeeze in at the corner.

The touchdown was Bai?s 11th in six games against the Broncos, although Kevin Sinfield?s conversion attempt barely got off the ground.

The Broncos hit back eight minutes later when enterprising hands from Dorn allowed full-back Wells to pluck the ball out of the air to score, with Paul Sykes making no mistake with the extras.

The visitors crossed again two minutes later, Lee Hopkins strolling through weak defence from Sinfield to send Dorn over under the sticks, with Sykes extending the advantage to 12-4.

Leeds responded by bringing big second-rower Ali Lauitiiti off the bench and, after London surrendered possession on halfway, Mark Calderwood crossed in the right-hand corner with Sinfield again failing to convert.

It mattered not, though, as Leeds crossed for their third try after the half-hour, Bai bringing the ball superbly from the left-wing to the right-wing, before quick hands allowed Chris McKenna to score in the right-hand corner for his third try in as many games.

Rob Burrow, who had replaced Sinfield moments earlier, took over the goalkicking duties but had similar difficulties to leave the scores locked at 12-12.

The diminutive Burrow almost made amends immediately by cutting through the London defence down the right hand side only for Sykes to tackle him into touch when it looked like he had made a clean break.

The Broncos looked like they had done enough to ensure a share of the half-time spoils, only for Senior to cross a minute before the interval, although McGuire became the third Leeds player to fail to add the extras.

The Rhinos stamped their authority on proceedings with two tries within five minutes of the restart through McGuire and Senior.

The first, less than a minute after the restart, was all McGuire?s doing - he broke through the cover on his own 30-metre line and skinned Wells on the outside to cross in the left-hand corner.

Burrow, to the disbelief of the crowd, again failed to convert, although he did lay his side?s sixth try on a plate for Senior three minutes later with a beautiful offload before raising the roof in ironic cheers by nailing the first successful Rhinos conversion at the sixth attempt.

The Broncos failed to allow the double disappointment to affect them, though, and Sykes crossed for his second try after 50 minutes after a nicely-timed ball from Mark McLinden.

Leeds had a massive let-off five minutes later when substitute winger Lee Smith made a complete hash of a long kick downfield to allow John Fitzpatrick to fall on the ball for a try - only to breathe a sigh of relief as the touch judge had his flag raised after Smith?s boot had grazed the whitewash.

The Rhinos ensured they made the most of the break to extend their lead just after the hour mark as McGuire backed up a super break from Senior to touch down by the posts, with Sinfield returning to the field in time to fire his first successful goal of the night.

McGuire put the icing on the cake with two further converted scores in the final quarter, backing up on the shoulders of Lauitiiti and Senior, before Sykes took a fine ball from the impressive Lee Hopkins to grab a consolation for the visitors in the dying seconds which he also converted.

Leeds: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, McGuire, Dunemann, Bailey, Diskin, McDermott, Ellis, McKenna, Sinfield. Replacements: Burrow, Lauitiiti, Scruton, Smith.

London: Wells, Kirkpatrick, Smith, Sykes, Bradley-Qalilawa, McLinden, Dorn, Trindall, Hopkins, Armour, Haumono, Mateo, Mbu. Replacements: Williams, Stephenson, Tookey, Highton.

Leeds: (16) 44. Tries: Bai, Calderwood, McKenna, Senior 2, McGuire 4. Goals: Burrow, Sinfield 3.

London: (12) 24. Tries: Wells, Dorn, Sykes 2. Goals: Sykes 4.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury)

Att: 13,318

Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for the above review