Leeds Rhinos 36-12 Hull KR
Hull KR face a trip to Warrington Wolves in the play-offs after a 36-12 defeat to fellow Grand Final hopefuls Leeds Rhinos confirmed a sixth-place finish. Both teams went into the game assured of a top-six spot after Warrington Wolves ended Castleford Tigers’ hopes with a thrilling 40-24 win at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday night. Rovers reporter James O’Brien delivers the verdict from Headingley.
It always had the makings of an enthralling final round and the revised schedule only added to the drama. Fans of KR and Leeds were mapping out their route to the Grand Final when Warrington went 32-0 up but at one stage in the second half, the only thing they could see was the back of the sofa. By the end, the overriding feeling was relief with the result not only securing top-six spots for both sides but ensuring there would be no repeat of those dramatic scenes at Headingley.
Still, there was a game to be won and it is Leeds who will head into the playoffs with momentum after taking control of a closely fought contest leading into half-time. The Rhinos scored six tries in all to leave Tony Smith with plenty of work to do ahead of next Friday’s clash with Warrington.
Smith resisted the urge to rest players, although he was without Albert Vete after he joined Ryan Hall and Greg Minikin as the latest additions to the casualty list.
The sides traded sets in an even opening but it was Leeds who took the lead in the 13th minute, Rob Lui stepping past a weak attempt by George King before beating Will Dagger to touch down next to the posts. Rovers got back into the game thanks to a gift from Ash Handley, the winger throwing a blind offload that was picked up by Brad Takairangi who gave Mikey Lewis a clear run to the line for his seventh try of the season. The Robins went on to enjoy a sustained spell of pressure on the Leeds line but they failed to come away with points and lost their way completely in the final 10 minutes of the half.
Matt Prior crashed over from close range after Jimmy Keinhorst lost the ball coming away from his own end before Matt Parcell went off with a worrying-looking injury, potentially joining eight teammates on the casualty list. It went from bad to worse for Rovers as the Rhinos scored twice more before the break either side of a bombed try by Ben Crooks.
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Leeds Rhinos 36 (24)
Tries: Lui, Prior, Holroyd, Myler, Donaldson, Handley. Goals: Martin 6.
Hull KR 12 (6)
Tries: Lewis, Dagger. Goals: Abdull 2.