As winter shook it´s angry fist at the north of England for the first time in 2023, the Rhinos had taken all necessary precautions to ensure that tonight´s match against bottom of the table Wakefield Trinity would be able to go ahead despite ample snow covering the side roads surrounding Headingley Stadium.
Wakefield came into the game still seeking their opening win of the new campaign while the Rhinos were looking to double up after their sensational last-gasp victory over World Club Champions St Helens in the last round at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
The bookies could see only one winner, giving Trinity a sixteen-point start on the coupon, but the Rhinos went into the game fully aware that they were massive underdogs last time out and still came away with the points.
While Leeds had most of the early ball, they were struggling to complete their sets and coughing up possession way too easily.
A great kick from Aidan Sezer caused havoc in the Trinity defence, Liam Kay dropping the ball. Two plays in saw Rhyse Matin held up over the line and while it looked like the Rhinos would get the breakthrough the attack broke down again as the Rhinos conceded a penalty.
Ash Handley limped off on twenty with James Bentley coming on for his first appearance of the season as the Rhinos reshuffled.
The game was becoming a bit of a dirge as neither side really troubled their opponent’s line. But on thirty-three Richie Myler spilled the ball ten from his own line but the Rhinos defence managed to defend their line and thwart a golden try scoring opportunity for Wakefield.
Nene MacDonald went close with thirty seconds left on the clock and on the next play it looked like the Rhinos were in but the referee called a knock-on and the two sides went into the sheds with the scorers not having being called into action.
The deadlock was finally broken on forty-five when David Fusitu´a took a great pass from Richie Myler to dive over from five metres out. Rhyse Martin was unable to add the conversion but at least the scoreboard was moving.
Sezer went close on the hour and on the next play Harry Newman scored within a couple of minutes as coming on as substitute on his comeback from injury as he took a Fusitu´a tap back from a Blake Austin kick. Matin was on target this time for a 10-0 lead for the Rhinos.
Another super-substitution paid for the Rhinos, this time it was Tom Holroyd who was on hand to take a pass from Sezer who had broken through the Trinity defence before putting in a great pass. Martin added the conversion for 16-0, the Rhinos now easing to victory.
Fusitu´a got his second on sixty-seven when he found space on the overlap with Austin and Bentley combining before finding Myler who put in the killer pass to allow the winger to go over for his second of the game. Martin was unable to add the extras from wide, Leeds with a 20-0 lead.
Kevin Proctor was held up over the line and within a minute Myler broke the line for fifty metres to the Trinity forty before finding MacDonald in support to sprint for the line and get his first try in Rhinos colours. Aidan Sezer took over the kicking and added the extras for 26-0.
Back-to-back wins for the Rhinos after a tough first half where neither side looked like scoring. A third consecutive scoreless game for the relegation favourites who seem to be in all sorts of trouble at the start of a make or break season. Rohan Smith won´t be happy about the Rhinos first half but much more satisfied with the way that his side controlled the second forty. A try scoring return for Harry Newman, the icing on the cake.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Fusitu´a (2T), Macdonald (T), Handley, Olpherts, Austin, Sezer (G), Holroyd (T), O´Connor, Tetevano, McDonnell, Martin (2G), Smith. Subs: Lisone, Walters, Newman (T), Bentley. 18th Man: Johnson.
Wakefield Trinity: Kay, Kershaw, Lyne, Langi, Taufua, Gaskell, Lino, Atoni, Hood, Whitbread, Pitts, Ashurst, Crowther. Subs: Battye, Proctor, Smith, Eseh. 18th Man: Hall.
Score Progression: 0-0 : HT : 4-0, 8-0, 10-0, 14-0, 16-0, 20-0, 24-0, 26-0 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Leeds.
Referee: Ben Thaler.