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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Leeds Rhinos 20 Hull KR 12

2nd February 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

Danny McGuire sealed a great fight back for the Rhinos after Lee Smith had scored two earlier tries in a 20-12 win for the Champions.

The Rhinos had trailed 12-4 after two tries from Hull KR's new signing Jake Webster looked like it had set up an opening day shock. However, Leeds dominated the last quarter of the game and Smith's double along with a last gasp effort by McGuire gave Brian McClennan a perfect start to his career as Leeds coach.

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Leeds Rhinos returned to Headingley Carnegie for the first time their Grand Final win over St Helens back in October looking to continue a 10 game run of home victories over Hull KR going back to 1985. Brian McClennan was denied the services of Jamie Jones-Buchanan for his first game in charge of the club after the second rower picked up a hamstring strain in the final training session. His place in the side was taken by Ian Kirke whilst Nick Scruton was amongst the replacements.

Hull KR also had a late withdrawal with Luke Menzies ruled out with a wrist injury. Kirk Netherton took his place at hooker. The game was played in freezing temperatures and both teams could be forgiven for mistaking this with the kick off of the 13th season of summer rugby. Defences were on top in the opening exchanges as Leeds and Hull KR battled it out to gain supremacy in the first quarter.

Hull KR had a couple of half chances, one in particular which was stopped by a great tackle by Brent Webb, however it was the Rhinos who took the lead after 15 minutes. Clint Newton knocked on for the visitors coming away from his own line and two tackles later the Rhinos were in. Burrow and Sinfield combined to send Senior away and he offloaded to Scott Donald to score in the corner. Sinfield was unable to add the conversion but the Rhinos led 4-0.

Leeds then had a good spell of pressure with the forwards led by Jamie Peacock and Matt Diskin taking the game to the visitors. However, they could not capitalise on that pressure and Hull KR struck back after 26 minutes. After forcing Leeds to drop out from behind their own line, Hull KR were given a penalty on the try line by referee Richard Silverwood for offside. Rovers moved the ball across the field and new signing Jake Webster managed to get out of the tackle and stretch for the line. Former Rhino Scott Murrell's attempted conversion hit the post and bounced away to leave the score level at 4-4.

Leeds were getting on the wrong side of referee Silverwood as the half drew to a close and he gave Jake Webster the chance to give his side the lead when he penalised Gareth Ellis for offside 20 metres from his own line. Webster kicked the penalty to make the score 6-4 at the interval. The Rhinos came out fired up at the start of the second half and had opportunities to re-take the lead most notably for McGuire and Smith however the Rovers defence held firm. Then when Leeds turned over possession on half way they made the most of their chance as Jake Webster stepped away from the tackle of Smith and raced clear to score. Murrell added teh conversion to make it 12-4 after 58 minutes.

The Rhinos were denied their second try after 64 minutes when video ref Phil Bentham correctly spotted that Ryan Bailey's ball carrying arm had touched the ground before the prop stretched out to put the ball down. However, Leeds were not to be denied and did score two minutes later. Great defence set up the field position as pressure forced Rovers to cough up the ball. A great move involving Ablett and McGuire wrong footed the visitors defence before Toopi released Smith, who dived in at the corner to score. Sinfield's conversion attempt hit the post and bounced away leaving the score at 12-8.

The Rhinos should have levelled the game two minutes later when Toopi made a sensational break down the South Stand side but his pass back inside to Burrow could not be taken by the scrum half and the chance went begging. Leeds though were pounding on the door and they broke through with six minutes remaining. The Rhinos were building wave after wave of pressure and a clever grubber kick by McGuire was chased up in numbers by his team mates. Rovers second row Ben Galea failed to control it and Smith and Sinfield both dived for the loose ball. Replays confirmed that both were onside and that Smith got the faintest of touches before his captain to claim his second try. Sinfield added the conversion to continue his run of 42 consecutive games with at least a point.

Bailey was denied another try by the video ref after just going short however the Rhinos did have the last word when Danny McGuire forced his way over from close range with the last play of the game. Sinfield added the conversion to seal the 20-12 win for the Champions.

Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Kirke, Ellis, Sinfield Subs: Bailey, Scruton, Ablett, Lauitiiti

Hull KR: Briscoe, Fox, Walker, Jake Webster, Fitzhenry, Chester, James Webster, Vella, Netherton, Mills, Newton, Galea, Murrell Subs: Gene, Crossman, Aizue, Cockayne

Referee: Richard Silverwood Video Ref: Phil Bentham

Attendance: 18,467

Flying Pizza Man of the Match: Matt Diskin 

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