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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Bradford Bulls 26 Leeds Rhinos 40

3rd May 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos produced a commanding second half performance to secure a 40-26 win over Bradford Bulls at the Millennium Stadium. The Rhinos trailed 10-6 at the break but they ran riot in the first 20 minutes of the second half to seal a big win over their West Yorkshire rivals. The Rhinos arrived at the Millennium Stadium looking to stretch their lead at the top of the engage Super League with rivals Catalans and St Helens not playing until 24 hours later. Brian McClennan named youngsters Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins in his side however Keith Senior swapped from left to right centre to spread the expereince in the backline whilst French international Eric Anselme was named amongst the replacements for his debut having arrived at Headingley Carnegie on Monday. Bradford were virtually at full strength with former Leeds skipper Iestyn Harris linking up with Paul Deacon in the half backs and Great Britain star Sam Burgess lined up to head to head with his older brother Luke in the Rhinos line up.

Leeds started brightly with a some good work on attack and defence but they put themselves under pressure after six minutes with a knock on which was quickly followed by a penalty 40 metres out. Bradford elected to kick for touch and eventually the pressure told as a clever cut out pass by Dave Solomona opened up space for Semi Tadulala to force his way over in the corner. Paul Deacon missed the conversion to leave it 4-0 after six minutes. After that early set back, the young Leeds squad could have been excused if they had gone into their shell on the big stage, however they responded in great fashion. Led by their inspirational captain Kevin Sinfield they struck back ten minutes later when a great offload by Kylie Leuluai created the space and Rob Burrow sent Kallum Watkins away for his first Super League try. Sinfield added the touchline conversion to take the lead at 6-4. The game was a real arm wrestle with both teams looking to find a chink in each others armour. Eventually, Bradford managed to level the game with a penalty from Deacon after 24 minutes when a number of Leeds players were caught offside. The Rhinos were masters in their own downfall when Ryan Hall needlessly offloaded 20 metres from his own line to hand possession to the Bulls. With ten minutes remaining in the half, Deacon edged his side in front with his second penalty of the game after Jamie Peacock was penalised close to his line. The Rhinos continued to press for a try and were unlucky when Scott Donald had a try disallowed after it was ruled he did not get the ball down. As half time approached, Danny McGuire attempted to rip the ball out of Tadulala's grip, did so and then set off for what looked like a certain try. However, referee Richard Silverwood called him back saying that there were two men in the tackle despite replays suggesting the second man did not join until the ball had come loose. Deacon then stepped up to kick his third penalty of the half to give his side a 10-6 lead at the break.

WP – Home MPU

The Rhinos could have considered themselves unlucky to trail by such a margin at the break but they soon made amends when Eric Anselme came off the bench to score on his debut. The move relied much on a seering break down the touchline and great support play with Anselme finishing off some unselfishing passing to score between the posts. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 12-10 after 43 minutes. Leeds extended their lead five minutes later when a well timed pass from Matt Diskin released Simon Worrall, and the young forward burst clear and showed incredible presence of mind to bide his time and select the supporting run of Keith Senior to score the try. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 18-10. Leeds were now in free flow mood and looked to kill the game with two quick fire tries just before the hour mark. Firstly, Brent Webb put in a great pass to Donald for him to score his 15th try of the season in the corner and then the pair combined again three minutes later for the Rhinos next try. A wide pass from Webb set Donald away but this time he drew the full back and put Webb in for the score between the posts. Sinfield converted the latter to make it 28-10. Bradford finally managed to get on the scoreboard in the second half with fifteen minutes remaining when Solomona put in a clever, well weighted kick to the corner which Tadulala latched onto to score his second try of the game. Deacon's conversion attempt hit the posts and bounced out so it remained 28-14 to the Rhinos. The game was back in the balance with 12 minutes remaining when video referee Phil Bentham stunned the Millennium Stadium when he awarded a try to Shontayne Hape despite replays seeming to clearly show a double movement by the New Zealander. Deacon's conversion went over this time after hitting the posts to make it 28-20 and the game was on. The Champions needed to show their mettle and they did three minutes later when Ryan Hall did brilliantly to pluck a Solomona pass out of the air and ran 50 metres to score despite the onset of cramp. Sinfield added the conversion to stretch the lead to 34-20 after 70 minutes. The Rhinos were not going to take their foot off the gas again and they wrapped up the win with five minutes remaining when Kylie Leuluai, a man not known for his try scoring, barged his way over for his third of the season. Sinfield added the conversion to make it 40-20. Bradford managed a late consolation try from Sam Burgess which was converted by Deacon but it could not take the gloss off a commanding performance by the Champions.

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