WIGAN Warriors 16 v Leeds Rhinos 24, Att: 17,281Leeds Rhinos staged a dramatic second half comeback to leave the Warriors still looking for their first win of 2006. After withstanding a barrage of Leeds pressure, Wigan scored three unanswered first half tries by teenagers Joel Tomkins and Chris Ashton - who was on his home debut. The other scored by hooker Wayne Godwin.The Rhinos cut the deficit by scoring two early second half tries through Shane Millard and man of the match Danny McGuire. Wigan were finally worn down by relentless Leeds pressure. Tries in the last ten minutes by Skipper Kevin Sinfield and live wire scrum half Rob Burrow gave the Rhinos a hard earned victory before Wigan?s biggest ever attendance for an opening home game in the Super League.St Helens 44 v Castleford Tigers 8, Att: 13,528St Helens showed why they are going to be the team to beat in this year?s competition by demolishing the Castleford Tigers at Knowsley Road.Saints, who welcomed back Great Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe, ran in six first half tries to end the Tigers hopes of winning their first game on their return to the top flight.The Tigers must take some credit as they competed in the second half scoring two tries through scrum-half Andy Kain and Gray Viane. However former Dragons star Jason Hooper had the last say in the game by scoring the Saints eighth and final try. Jamie Lyon kicked six goals before another bumper Knowsley Road crowd.Salford City Reds 16 v Catalans Dragons 0, Att: 4,660The Dragons were brought back down to earth when the much-improved City Reds shut them out. Tragedy stuck early for Catalans when their influential Kiwi international scrum-half Stacey Jones left the field with a broken arm, which will sideline him for at least eight weeks.Salford took advantage of Jones? departure and despite dominating throughout, they only had two Stuart Littler tries to show until Andrew Brocklehurst went over in the last ten minutes. Former Rhinos half-back Andrew Dunemann - making his Reds debut - had a hand in all of his team?s tries and looks a very shrewd signing. Coach Karl Harrison was delighted with his team defence and especially their 100% start to this year?s campaign.Bradford Bulls 18 v Harlequins RL 18, Att: 11,097Injury-hit Harlequins pulled off a major upset when they twice came from behind to earn a point from a tough-tackling clash with Engage Super League champions Bradford Bulls.The Quins made a late change when Luke Dorn picked up a hamstring injury to keep him out of the game. The Bulls opened the scoring early on when former Eels hooker Ian Henderson jinked his way over the whitewash after Harlequins were reduced to 12 men, when new boy Matt Gafa was sin-binned for holding down in the tackle.Man of the match Thomas Leuluai put Quins on level terms with a close range try. Shortly after ex-Storm forward Danny Williams gave Harlequins a first half lead.Early in the second half, the Bulls stepped up the pace by scoring two tries through Shontayne Hape and Ben Harris. However, after weathering the storm, a Lee Hopkins try regained the lead for the Quins. With only minutes remaining a Paul Deacon penalty managed to rescue a point for the Bulls.Huddersfield Giants 26 v Warrington Wolves 20, Att: 8,104The Giants recorded their first victory in Engage Super league XI, when they defeated an injury-hit Warrington Wolves before an impressive 8,104 attendance at the Galpharm Stadium.Huddersfield twice came from behind after the Wolves scored two early tries through Chris Bridge, who was preferred in the starting line-up to Australian Michael Sullivan, and former Hull FC flyer Richie Barnett.Despite loosing the influential Brad Drew through injury, the Giants clawed their way back with tries from home debutant Albert Torrens and Australian centre Chris Nero to square the game up shortly before half time. After the break a Martin Aspinwall try gave the Giants the lead, but with Michael De Vere having an off day with his kicking, Warrington took the lead again through Bridge?s second try. Two quick Huddersfield tries, both converted, gave the Giants an unassailable lead. Warrington did mange a late Henry Fa'afili consolation try though.Hull FC 40 v Wakefield Wildcats 14, Att: 11,860Hull kept up their 100% record by thrashing the hapless Wakefield Wildcats in front of another big KC Stadium crowd. In-form centre Kirk Yeaman scored a hat-trick of tries as the Black and Whites produced a fluent attacking display by scoring seven tries.Coach John Kear must have been happy with his teams defence as they managed to hold out early Wildcats pressure by defending five consecutive sets of six.Wakefield dug deep in the second half, but their mini revival ? with tries from Kiwi international David Solomona and winger Paul White - came to nothing as the KC Stadium side managed to hold on to record an emphatic victory over their Yorkshire rivals.
REDCLIFFE has held on for 26-20 win against the Brisbane Broncos Emerging Squad, played before another healthy pre-season crowd at Dolphin Oval.On an evening when the Broncos? top squad faced Canberra in Port Macqaurie, their younger brigade learned some lessons off a few old heads.Despite it being the Dolphins first run of the season, the home side appeared more composed and comfortable from the outset, establishing a 16-4 halftime lead.Indeed, without a hint of sentiment, veterans Troy Lindsay and Greg Bourke only seemed to have grown better with another offseason under their belts.The most capped player in Queensland Wizard Cup history, Lindsay was sharper than anyone in the opening exchanges, launching his 32-year-old body at the line with speed and gusto.After hauling hay on his Dayboro property all day, Lindsay has reportedly trained like a teenager and has even bought a rowing machine for his rare days off.His hard work showed.Damien Jentz?s try in the 17th minute came the very next play after a Lindsay hit-up, with Trent Callaghan slow to get across after making the tackle.The Broncos didn?t take long to respond via Gideon Mzembe, pouncing on a chip in-goal by former Wavell High halfback Jacob Fauid.Malawi-raised Mzembe certainly didn?t have things all his own way however and was met with force on a number of kick returns, much to the delight of the crowd.His opposite man, Dolphins debutant Kaine Manihera, was gifted a try in the 32nd minute, with journeyman Bourke laying the groundwork.Although bulked-up, Bourke surprised teammates and onlookers with a blistering turn of speed to break into the clear, timing his pass to Manihera to perfection.Not long after, Nick Emmett was put across in the corner by artful dummy-half Michael Roberts, who frog-stepped his way behind the markers before creating the gap.Twelve points down at the break, the fresh-faced Broncos had an uphill task.Fullback Denan Kemp momentarily raised hope of a fightback when he scooped up a loose ball and outpaced a horde of defenders over 80m to score in the 48th minute.Earlier the one-time soccer prodigy ran 45m off his own line to defuse a potentially threatening grubber kick.Another Broncos hopeful with a big future, utility Jamie Simpson, scored one of his signature pin-ball tries, bouncing off the defence in the 62nd minute.However experience shone through at important times, Bourke mixing skill, speed and guile to twice grubber ahead and outpace Mzembe to the ball in the 67th minute.Fellow three-quarter Emmett completed a brace when he took a spectacular bomb from Marty Turner on the fly.An eventful final few minutes saw prop Lynden Murphy score for the Broncos, having tried in earnest throughout.Redcliffe prop Pat Gardner was placed on report on the final play of the game for a late tackle on Fauid.Dolphin Mark Shipway wore jersey number 18 in his return to the club he last represented a decade ago, but was included in the starting line-up.In lower grades Redcliffe won both encounters, with a 34-12 try in Colts and a 24-20 win in FOGS Cup, secured by a last minute try to Chris Jelich.Main GameREDCLIFFE 26 (Nick Emmett 2, Damien Jentz, Kaine Manihera, Greg Bourke tries; Greg Bourke 3 goals) beat TOOWOOMBA 20 (Gideon Mzembe, Denan Kemp, Jamie Simpson, Lynden Murphy tries; Jacob Fauid, Todd Parnell goals).FOGS CupREDCLIFFE 24 (Matt Mannion, Mick Pares, Mitchell Simpson, Adam Luchetti, Chris Jelich tries; Alwayn Simpson 2 goals) beat ASPLEY 20 (Ben Coleman, Todd Parnell, Scott Millar, TBC tries; Pat Dall 2 goals)FOGS Colts ChallengeREDCLIFFE 34 (Dion Porteus, Michael Wilson, Matt Handcock, Tim Yee, Jon Broad, Tom Donnelly, Jordan Brown tries; Tim Benson 3 goals) beat ASPLEY 12 (Brynjar Ragnarsson, Troydan Edwards tries; Scott Millar 2 goals).
MATTHEW Elliott will take over from John Lang as Head Coach of Penrith at the end of the season.The changeover was announced today by Panthers CEO Glenn Matthews, who said Elliott had agreed to a three year deal."John has been a great coach for our club, taking us to a premiership and falling only one game short of a second grand final," Matthews said.John Lang himself informed the players and coaching staff of the change at a meeting this morning in Alice Springs."John told them that for 2006 as far as he was concerned it's business as usual," said Michael Leary, Panthers general manager of rugby league."? feel enormously flattered and very fortunate to be able to continue my coaching career in the NRL with Penrith," Elliott said today. "In the meantime I intend to ensure that my coaching continues to improve."
WE?VE managed to get our hands on a signed Parramatta jersey and we?re offering it up for sale on eBay.It?s been signed by most of the current first graders and for the full details please click here.If we get a good response to this one, League Unlimited will have a few more on offer. All proceeds go back into the site to keep it going. Remember, it?s YOUR site.
NEW Zealand Kiwis and Les Catalans Dragons halfback, Stacey Jones, has been ruled out of the English Super League competition for at least six weeks with a broken arm. Jones - who played an inspirational part in the Kiwis' Tri-Nations series win last year - was forced off the field in the early stages of the Round 2 ESL game against Salford. The 29-year-old Catalans Dragons skipper was taken to hospital and had his arm put into plaster. His recovery is expected to take six to eight weeks. The setback was compounded by the loss of the team?s other specialist scrum-half Julien Rinaldi, who went off late in the first half with a leg injury which could leave the French side without a recognized number seven for their next match at Castleford.Rinaldi, 26, is the current French number seven but had been switched to hooker to accommodate the arrival of Jones.
THE NRL?s newest club officially launched its? playing strip this week to a ballad penned by poet Robert Raftery at the Prince Albert Pub at Conrad Jupiters on the Gold Coast.As Raftery read the final verse in the ballad young boys and girls from Nerang Roosters representing every age group of junior rugby league and flanked by Titans Elite academy squad members filed onto the stage to the rapturous applause of the media and general public who turned out for the launch.Managing Director Michael Searle said, ?This is what the Titans are all about! We pursued the licence so vigorously in the first place because of what it would do for our kids. We thought the best way to symbolise that was to put juniors of all ages into the strip for the launch.?Following the revealing Searle presented Titans Chairman Paul Broughton with one of the first jerseys off the production line in honour of his contribution as Chairman of the Bid Team which helped secure the licence announced on May 27 last year.Searle said, " It was Paul?s passion, his commitment, leadership and ?never say die? attitude that gave us the will to keep going over the years and for that we are eternally grateful.?The Jersey colour and design was selected by Footy Fans via a website poll conducted by the Gold Coast Titans. There were six jerseys designed by Reebok to choose from, the most popular taking 36% of the 50,000 votes.General Manager of Marketing and Commercial Stephen Burns said, ?It was the people?s choice that won out. This is the design that people want to see on our team when they run out in 2007 and that is the good thing about the process that we have used ? it has been totally transparent.?The main colours of yellow, blue and faun represent the sun, sea and sand with bronze and steel representing the colours of metal that are used in armour when the Titans go to battle on the football field.Curved neck lines based on gladiatorial shoulder gear of medieval Titans and the side panels allow a main body ?T?.The Jerseys will be on sale at the Bulldogs V Warriors NRL Pre-season game at Gold Coast Stadium on February 25. They?re also expected to hit all major sportswear retailers in early March.
THE South Sydney Rabbitohs have started 2006 on a winning note after defeating the St George Illawarra Dragons 14-12 in the Charity Shield trial at Telstra Stadium tonight.The Dragons came out the blocks impressively after five-eighth Trent Barrett scored the first try of the night after getting past three Souths players on his way to the line. A second Barrett inspired try gave the Dragons a 12-0 lead at halftime after he put in a chip kick for fullback Ben Hornby who planted it over the line.Whatever Souths' coach Shaun McRae said at halftime must of worked, as it was a different South Sydney who came onto the field for the second half. They outscored the Dragons by three tries to none.Paul Mellor got the first try for Souths off a nice grubber kick out wide by Ben Walker and then once again there was another try out wide, this time to Shannon Hegarty to bring Souths within four.The match winning try came with about twenty minutes remaining to David Faalogo which gave Souths a 14-12 lead.Scorers:South Sydney Rabbitohs 14Tries: Mellor, Hegarty, Fa'alogoGoals: B Walker 1/3defeatedSt George Illawarra Dragons 12Tries: Barrett, HornbyGoals: Naiqama 2/2Telstra StadiumCrowd: 24,566Kickofff: 8:00pm 18 Feb 2006Referee: Steve ClarkBy The Clock:Kickoff and match underway.13 min: NEWS Still 0-0 at Telstra after around 13 minutes of play.15 min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsTrent Barrett gets the first try of the night after he beats about three Souths players from 5m out from the line. Dragons 6-021st min: TRY St George Illawarra DragonsTrent Barrett puts in a chip kick for Ben Hornby who scores a try to put the Dragons further in front. Dragons 12-040 min: NEWS Halftime in the Charity Shield as the rain continues to pour down the Dragons lead Dragons 12-0.42nd min: NEWS Trent Barrett and Ben Hornby will not appear in the 2nd half as the Dragons are resting them.46th min: TRY South SydneyTry to Souths as Ben Walker puts in a nice grubber kick for Paul Mellor to score a try outwide. Dragons 12-457th min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsShannon Hegarty scores outwide to bring the game closer with the margin now just 4 points. Dragons 12-861st min: TRY South Sydney RabbitohsSouths even things up as David Faalogo goes into score a try as they start to get on top of the Dragons with around 20 minutes to go. Souths 14-12FOR OTHER TRIAL MATCH RESULTS & REPORTS - CLICK HERE
INJURY-HIT Warrington will be without three of their close-season signings for Sunday?s engage Super League match at Huddersfield.Worst hit is Great Britain winger Stuart Reardon, who will be sidelined for four to six weeks after breaking a bone in his hand in an accidental clash in training.New club captain Paul Rauhihi (hamstring) and Reardon?s former Bradford team-mate Rob Parker (ankle) are also out after being injured in the 24-6 home defeat by Salford, while Chris Leikvoll (neck) and skipper Lee Briers (knee) are doubtful.?The Salford game was an expensive fixture for us,? said coach Paul Cullen. ?Ahead of the kick-off we had a fully fit squad but by 4.30pm we knew we had been busted up badly and a number of the lads are carrying injuries.?It?s not a case of good or bad luck, it?s simply professional rugby league and it?s our turn to go through the mill at the moment.?Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves, Galpharm Stadium, Sunday February 19 2006, Kick-off 3.00pmHuddersfield 20-man squad: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, De Vere, Donlan, Thorman, Paul, Crabtree, Drew, Nero, Snitch, Wild, Jones, Jackson, March, Smith, McDonald, Grayshon, Gardner, Torrens.Warrington 20-man squad: Grose, Fa?afili, M. Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Briers, Sullivan, Leikvoll, Clarke, Swann, Wainwright, Noone, M. Gleeson, Westwood, Wood, Lima, Barnett, Grix, Pickersgill, Bracek, Bridge.
THURSDAY - 16th February 2006Hull make one change to the side that beat Castleford in the opening round of the engage Super League season as they face Wakefield at the KC Stadium.Second rower Shayne McMenemy goes onto the bench after recovering from close-season shoulder surgery.Wakefield have no injury worries and coach Tony Smith has added Dave Wrench, Mark Applegarth and Mark Field to the squad that ran Bradford close in their opening game.Hull v Wakefield, KC Stadium, Sunday February 19, Kick-off 3:00pmHull 20-man squad: Blacklock, Briscoe, Brough, Carvell, Cooke, Domic, Dowes, Higgins, R. Horne, King, Lupton, McMenemy, Radford, Raynor, Saxton, Swain, Thackray, Tony, Whiting, Yeaman.Wakefield 20-man squad: Halpenny, Demetriou, Whittle, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst, Griffin, March, Korkidas, Solomona, J. Field, Betham, White, Wrench, MacGillivray, Elima, Henderson, M. Field, Applegarth, Catic.Referee: S Ganson
BRADFORD are still without injured winger Lesley Vainikolo as they look to maintain their winning start to the defence of their engage Super League title when they face Harlequins at Odsal.The Bulls will give a debut to ex-Leeds second rower Chris McKenna, who can also list London Broncos among his former employers.McKenna has recovered from the hamstring injury that forced him to sit out the Carnegie World Club Challenge as well as the opening League match and the anxiety over the health of his wife Kelly, who spent Sunday night in intensive care after contracting pneumonia.?She?s still weak but the doctors are pleased with the progress she?s making and she?s going to be okay,? he said.Harlequins are still without skipper Mark McLinden, who has not yet recovered from a hamstring injury.New signing Mark Gafa stood in at full-back against St Helens but coach Tony Rea said: ?We?ve got a couple of options that we might change.?Bradford and Quins have named their squads for Saturday?s clash in round two of the engage Super League.Bradford v Harlequins, Odsal Stadium, Saturday February 18, kick-off 18.05Bradford 18-man squad: Deacon, Bai, Fielden, I. Harris, Withers, Johnson, B. Harris, Gene, Pryce, Ferres, Cook, Vagana, Langley, Hape, McKenna, Meyers, Lynch, Henderson.Harlequins 18-man squad: Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Gafa, Haumono, Heckenberg, Hopkins, Leuluai, Lolohea, Lucky Luisi, Mbu, Mills, Purdham, Sheriffe, Sykes, Temata, Tookey, Weisner, Williams.Referee: A Klein
WIGAN Warriors have the chance to bounce back from their disappointment in France when they take on Leeds at the JJB Stadium.Former Leeds winger Mark Calderwood will be one of five Wigan players making their home debuts and he is relishing the opportunity to get to grips with his old team-mates.?It was the first game I looked for on the fixture list,? he said. ?Leeds is always a big game for everyone.?They are a good team and they have recruited well. They are a quality side with some good players, it should be a good game.?Calderwood was Super League?s leading tryscorer in his last season at Headingley with 28 tries and in total scored 106 in 143 appearances.?Like all players who come up against their former clubs, I?m sure he will be wanting to perform well,? said Leeds coach Tony Smith.?He is a Leeds lad and achieved a lot with the Rhinos but we have both moved on now.?Perhaps more so than any other team, we are fully aware of Mark?s strengths and weaknesses and we will be looking to guard against and exploit them both.?If Leeds are acutely aware of the threat of Calderwood, Wigan will be wary of the try-scoring ability of stand-off Danny McGuire.McGuire has scored 12 tries in the last 12 meetings with Wigan in all competitions and has only failed to score against them on two occasions throughout his career.Wigan Warriors v Leeds Rhinos, JJB Stadium, Friday February 17, Kick-off 8pmWigan 18-man squad: Ashton, Calderwood, Vaealiki, Richards, Dallas, Orr, Moran, Logan, Higham, Hargreaves, Tickle, Hansen, O?Loughlin, Paleaaesina, Seu Seu, Godwin, Brown, Tomkins.Leeds 18-man squad: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield, Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton, Ablett.Referee: R Silverwood
GREAT Britain captain Paul Sculthorpe will make his comeback from injury in St Helens? home game against Castleford.The Saints captain has not played since August, after undergoing major knee surgery, and was a frustrated spectator as his side opened their engage Super League campaign with a 40-16 win at Harlequins on Saturday.Sculthorpe will be up against younger brother Danny, who joined Castleford from Wigan in the close season. New Zealand international back rower Vinnie Anderson is also set to return on Friday, after recovering from a thumb operation.But St Helens will be without second rower Jon Wilkin and prop Paul Anderson because of injury.St Helens v Castleford, Knowsley Road, Friday February 18, Kick-off 8pmSt Helens 18-man squad: V. Anderson, Cayless, Cunningham, Fa'asavalu, Fozzard, Gardner, Gilmour, Graham, Hardman, Hooper, Long, Lyon, Meli, Pryce, Roby, Sculthorpe, Talau, Wellens.Castleford 18-man squad: Platt, Shenton, Dyer, Blanch, Kain, Sculthorpe, Henderson, Nutley, Mason, Roarty, Bird, Huby, Fletcher, A. Smith, Viane, Fa'aoso, McGoldrick, Ward.Referee: R Laughton
CATALANS Dragons will be without veteran second row forward Pascal Jampy and current Test centre Teddy Sadaoui for Friday?s engage Super League match at Salford.Both players were injured in the Dragons? opening 38-30 win over Wigan.Bruno Verges, Sebastien Martins, Thomas Bosc, Julien Touxagas and Remi Casty have all been added to the Catalans? 20-man squad after sitting out the Wigan match.Former Leeds half-back Andrew Dunemann is expected to make his debut for Salford, who have also recalled forwards Chris Charles and Sean Rutgerson to their squad.Salford City Reds v Catalans Dragons, The Willows, Friday February 17, 8pm kick-offSalford 18-man squad: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Moule, Stewart, Dunemann, Coley, Alker, Finnigan, Sibbit, Highton, Langi, Wilshere, Haggerty, Littler, Clough, Baldwin, Brocklehurst, Rutgerson.Catalans Dragons 18-man squad: Guigue, Murphy, Wilson, Hughes, Verges, Frayssinous, Jones, Beattie, Guisset, Hindmarsh, Mounis, Rudder, Chan, Fellous, Touxagas, Fakir, Casty, RinaldiReferee: P Bentham
DEFENDING engage Super League champions Bradford Bulls opened their 2006 account with a hard-fought 20-14 victory over Wakefield Wildcats at Belle Vue.In a thoroughly entertaining game, Tony Smith's Wildcats had looked on course to record a memorable win but Bradford came back and a Shontayne Hape try in the 63rd minute secured victory for the visitors.Bulls coach Brian Noble will be happy with the win but not necessarily the performance as Bradford struggled for cohesion throughout the game.One of the biggest pluses of the day for the Bulls was the return from injury of Paul Deacon, who had a sound match and pulled the strings for the visitors.Defences dominated the early stages of the game as both sides struggled to complete their sets of six.The first chance fell to the visitors when Wakefield full-back Colum Halpenny failed to collect a seemingly straightforward kick five metres from his own line.Iestyn Harris went on his own straight from the play-the-ball but Halpenny redeemed his earlier error by making a superb try-saving tackle on the Great Britain international.The Wildcats grew in confidence, and they opened the scoring in the 23rd minute after Olivier Elima produced a phenomenal tackle on Marcus Bai, forcing the Bradford winger to knock on.Ben Jeffries kicked through from the resulting scrum and debutant Paul White outpaced Karl Pryce to score in the corner. Jeffries converted to make it 6-0.Two minutes later and the Wildcats were at it again. Paul Deacon ? playing his first game since suffering a horrific facial injury playing for Great Britain in the Gillette Tri-Nations Series ? hoisted an up-and-under which John Whittle collected after a fumble by Bai.The Wakefield centre showed a remarkable turn of pace to sprint 80 metres to the line to record the Wildcats' second debutant try of the afternoon.Just as the home side were in danger of pulling clear, Bradford responded when Stanley Gene forced his way over from close range. Deacon's conversion made it 10-6 at the break.The second half exploded into life when David Solomona made a powerful break down the left and released Halpenny. The full-back fed Semi Tadulala and the wing outpaced the defence to score an outstanding try.Jeffries was unable to convert and a try by Harris eight minutes later, converted by Deacon, made the score 14-12 to the Wildcats nine minutes into the second half.The visitors drew level through a Deacon penalty after Monty Betham was penalised for holding on at the tackle.They went in front for the first time in the match when Hape crashed over following some good work from Brad Meyers. Deacon's conversion extended the lead to six points and the Bulls held on for the win despite some late pressure from Wakefield.Wakefield: 14 (10)Tries: White, Whittle, Tadulala.Goals: March.Bradford: 20 (6)Tries: Gene, I. Harris, Hape.Goals: Deacon 4.Wakefield: Halpenny, White, Demetriou, Whittle, Tadulala, Jeffries, Obst, Griffin, March, MacGillivray, Solomona, Catic, Betham.Replacements: Henderson, Korkidas, Elima, J. Field.Bradford: Withers, Bai, B. Harris, Hape, Pryce, I. Harris, Deacon, Fielden, Henderson, Lynch, Meyers, Johnson, Langley.Replacements: Gene, Vagana, Cook, Ferres.Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)
LEEDS began engage Super League XI in encouraging style as they overcame Huddersfield 20-12 on a significant afternoon for both clubs at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium.Both squads underwent serious makeovers during the winter with Leeds welcoming Jamie Peacock, Scott Donald and Shane Millard into their line-up.Peacock, an ex-Bradford captain, also came face-to-face with Robbie Paul, another Bulls legend, who was making his debut along with five others for a new-look Huddersfield.Although claiming the two points on offer, Leeds were made to work hard for the win by a resilient Huddersfield side in a clash littered with handling errors.Despite an enterprising opening from the visitors, in which Paul was a key contributor, their ill-discipline in conceding four early penalties proved costly as Leeds moved into the lead on 14 minutes.After finding themselves trapped on their own line, Huddersfield struggled manfully to prevent Gareth Ellis crossing, only to see Kevin Sinfield do so in the next move, collecting Matt Diskin's bullet pass to touch down under the posts.Sinfield's goal opened up a six-point gap, although Huddersfield responded to force two goal line drop-outs in succession.After a period of relative stability during which Ryan Bailey was held up over the line, Leeds were soon able to extend their advantage, Chev Walker feeding Donald, who avoided both Albert Torrens and the whitewash, before touching down.This time, Huddersfield's response led to points as Torrens too marked his debut with a try, cashing in on Chris Thorman's superb break to dive over to the left of the posts.With Thorman converting to bring the scores back to 10-6, Huddersfield would have been happy with such a deficit at the break, but any such hopes were dashed when Lee Smith burst on to Willie Poching's looped pass to register the Rhinos? third try.Sinfield's two failed conversions saw the home side go in 14-6 ahead at the interval.Unfortunately for a crowd of just over 16,000, the second period did not begin with the same intensity as the first, with the first noteworthy moment being Sinfield?s knock-on with the line at his mercy.It said much for Leeds? territorial dominance that Huddersfield did not enter their half until 24 minutes into the second period, although despite their possession, Leeds were unable to find the breakthrough.After the visitors had finally made a foray into their opponents? half with ball in hand, they only served to spill possession, with Ali Lauitiiti swooping on the loose ball to feed Danny McGuire, who sped away from the cover defence to score and seemingly settle the game.However McGuire?s touchdown sparked Huddersfield into life and they soon hit back with a penalty try in the 69th minute.Despite James Evans crossing to the right of the posts, referee Steve Ganson decided a late tackle behind the line on the centre by Richard Mathers was enough to award a penalty try under the posts and send Mathers to the sinbin.Thorman kicked the goal, and after a dormant 30 minutes, Huddersfield were back on Leeds? trail at 20-12.A brace of penalties helped Leeds relieve the pressure somewhat, and despite a couple of tense moments, specifically a thunderous break from Chris Nero and Walker?s claiming of a high-kick under intense pressure, they held on for the win.Leeds: 20 (14)Tries: Sinfield, Donald, Smith, McGuire.Goals: Sinfield 2.Huddersfield: 12 (6)Tries: Torrens, Evans.Goals: Thorman 2.Att: 16,119Leeds: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield.Replacements: Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton.Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, Torrens, De Vere, Thorman, Paul, McDonald, Drew, Jackson, Smith, Jones, Wild.Replacements: Crabtree, Nero, Snitch, March.Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)