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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Crusaders 7 Leeds Rhinos 12

17th June 2011

By Leeds Rhinos

Second half tries from Ali Lauitiiti and Danny McGuire secured a hard earned win over Crusaders at a sodden Racecourse Ground.

The Rhinos travelled to a wet Racecourse Ground to take on Crusaders looking for a repeat of their wins at Headingley Carnegie in the league and cup earlier this season.

WP – Home MPU

Leeds had also won at the Racecourse Ground in pre-season however having lost to the Crusaders last season, they will not have been taking the Welsh side for granted.

Kylie Leuluai returned to the starting line up for the Rhinos with Ryan Bailey coming on off the bench however Paul McShane retained his starting hooking role. Carl Ablett was rested by Head Coach Brian McDermott so Ali Lauitiiti returned to the side with Weller Hauraki coming into the starting thirteen.

For the second week running the Rhinos had to deal with wet conditions and despite their experience in the rain, it was the home side who took most advantage early on. A 40-20 kick from Michael Witt got his side deep into Leeds territory and twice they were able to force the Rhinos into repeat sets. Even when Kevin Sinfield appeared to have snuffed out a kick from former Rhino Jordan Tansey, Lee Smith knocked on as the Rhinos cleared their lines. Eventually the pressure had an effect and another former Rhino, Peter Lupton, went through a gap to score. Witt was unlucky to see his conversion to go narrowly wide to leave the score at 4-0 after 11 minutes.

Leeds settled into the game after that had a couple of good half chances but they were unable to find the final pass to break through the home defence. The closest the Rhinos came was a run from Hauraki, who offloaded to the ground before McGuire hacked on and then dived to touch the ball down. Had the game been televised, it would almost have certainly have gone to the video referee but it was ruled out on the spot.

The middle period of the game was a scrappy affair with neither team able to control enough ball to build up any pressure on their opponents line. There was too much spilled ball in the wet to allow any sort of momentum to be created and the match suffered as a consequence.

It was the home side who finished the first half the stronger and Leeds had to produce some heroic last ditch defence to keep them out. Vince Mellars could not take in a crossfield kick before Jarrod Sammut knocked on as he stretched to score from close range. However, they could not find a way through and despite having the lions share of possession, they only led 4-0 at half time.

The Rhinos came out fired up at the start of the second half and took the game to the Crusaders. They went close early on when Buderus fed Kirke nearly the line only for the Leeds man to be pulled back for a forward pass. Leeds appeared to be getting a foothold in a game and when Buderus combined with McGuire, they set Kirke again away through a gap. Whilst the move came to nothing, it showed that the visitors were beginning to ask questions of Iestyn Harris' side.

There was a half chance when Sinfield opted to kick from the base of a scrum on the first tackle for Zak Hardaker to chase and the young winger nearly made the most of it only for Mellars to dive at his feet to wrap up the ball.

On a rare attack, the Crusaders were able to increase their lead when Witt kicked a penalty from 25 metres out after 54 minutes.

The Rhinos were not put off their stride and came back down the other end of the field looking for an eqalising try. Delaney was unlucky to knock on McGuire's short pass on the line before Ryan Hall ran out of space down the touchline as he looked to go in at the corner.

The visitors were clearly getting frustrated with their inability to find a way through the Crusaders defence. The hosts were increasingly attempting to slow the game down and gave away a string of penalties for interference but no further action was taken by the officials.

With eleven minutes to go the Rhinos finally got over for a try but it was not without controversy. The Rhinos broke down the right wing but the chance appeared to have closed off only for the ball to come back in field and Jamie Peacock offloaded to Danny McGuire to score between the posts. The home fans were claiming that the final pass was forward but the score was given. Sinfield the conversion to level the scores and set up a dramatic finish.

Witt edged his side back in front with only the fifth drop goal in his club's history with six minutes to go and it looked like they may secure a historic win.

However, with four minutes to go Ali Lauitiiti spun out of a tackle near the Crusaders line before stretching out his arm to its full extent and plonking the ball down. Sinfield converted to make it 12-7.

There was still time for late drama but on three occasions, the Rhinos' well marshalled defence kept the home side out and they held on for the win.

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