Qual­i­fiers de­feat to Hull KR piles the pres­sure on Sinfield’s Rhi­nos

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - FRONT PAGE - AT EMER­ALD HEAD­IN­G­LEY Email: pe­terj.smith@ypn.co.uk Twit­ter: @PeterSmithYEP

LESS than a year ago Danny McGuire cap­tained Leeds Rhi­nos to their eighth Su­per League ti­tle. On his first game at Head­in­g­ley since then he nudged them to­wards the precipice of what would be a cat­a­strophic rel­e­ga­tion.

McGuire played a piv­otal role in a pre­cious 38-36 win for Hull KR which boosted their hopes of re­tain­ing top-flight sta­tus and piled the pres­sure on Leeds.

Both teams are among a quar­tet on four points from three fix­tures in the Qual­i­fiers, along with Toronto Wolf­pack and Toulouse Olympique, though Leeds re­main sec­ond – be­hind un­beaten Sal­ford – on points dif­fer­ence.

Ten points is the tar­get and both Leeds and Rovers are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing that, but the Robins look the more con­fi­dent side and are in good shape af­ter backto-back suc­cesses against Toronto and Rhi­nos.

They showed tremen­dous char­ac­ter to hit back from 3626 be­hind in the sec­ond half of a free-flow­ing clash in which both sides played some good at­tack­ing rugby, but looked highly vul­ner­a­ble in de­fence.

Craig Hall has proved an as­tute ac­qui­si­tion since re­join­ing the East York­shire club from Leigh and his touch­line con­ver­sion of Ju­nior Vaivai’s try 13 min­utes from time won the game.

That was his fifth goal and he also scored a hat-trick of tries, two of them be­ing set-up by McGuire who knocked on over the line in the fi­nal mo­ments.

The win­ning score was the sixth time the lead had changed hands and Hull KR coach Tom Sheens re­flected: “We kept stick­ing in it and stay­ing in the game.

“I am real happy with that. You don’t beat a side like that easy away. We got our noses in front and gave it up just be­fore half -time which was dis­ap­point­ing.

“I thought we de­served to stay in the game and it was al­ways go­ing to be nip and tuck as to who won. I didn’t think there was a par­tic­u­larly bet­ter side than an­other.

“I think both sides tried hard and played re­ally good footy, there was plenty of ball move­ment and some nice tries, but it just came down to who got the bounce at the back end and for­tu­nately it went for us.”

Joel Moon’s sixth try in the Qual­i­fiers gave Leeds an early lead, but Hull KR hit back through Hall, Adam Quin­lan and Robbie Mul­h­ern, who was among five former Rhi­nos in their lineup, to go 14-4 ahead.

Tom Briscoe crossed for the home team, but Hall landed a penalty be­fore two tries in as many min­utes at the end of the half seemed to have swung the mo­men­tum, Richie Myler cross­ing af­ter Liam Sut­cliffe had in­ter­cepted from McGuire, then Nathaniel Peteru com­plet­ing a flow­ing move.

That made it 22-16 at the in­ter­val. Sut­cliffe – who fin­ished with six goals – landed a penalty early in the sec­ond half, be­fore Hall crossed twice to com­plete his triple.

The tit-for-tat scor­ing con­tin­ued with Matt Par­cell and Tom Briscoe go­ing in for Leeds to make it 36-26 af­ter 54 min­utes, but the jit­tery hosts could not land a killer punch and a try for Chris Atkin got Rovers back within touch­ing dis­tance.

Sheens added: “It was one of those games that was go­ing to bounce one way or the other and we just pushed our­selves hard. There were some great in­di­vid­ual ef­forts and we knew we were as good as them, we knew we could come here [and win].”

Leeds have now won only two of their last 14 games against topflight op­po­si­tion, Widnes Vik­ings – who they visit on Sun­day – be­ing the vic­tims both times.

Di­rec­tor of rugby Kevin Sin- field ad­mit­ted they wasted an op­por­tu­nity to ease the mount­ing pres­sure. He said: “You are hop­ing you cre­ate a bit of a buf­fer, but we’ve not been good enough to do that.

“When you con­cede 38 points at home you get what you de­served.

“We weren’t pre­pared to be ruth­less enough to kill the game off.

“Whilever we lack that killer in­stinct we were al­ways open for Hull KR to have a crack back at us and they did.

“They are des­per­ate, so are we, but at cru­cial mo­ments we prob­a­bly weren’t des­per­ate enough,” he added.

Rovers were with­out Joel Tomkins, who was ill. Leeds cap­tain Carl Ablett’s in­volve­ment was ended by a knee in­jury in the first half.

Hull Kingston Rovers play­ers cel­e­brate vic­tory at Leeds Rhi­nos in front of their trav­el­ling fans. In­set, Rhi­nos boss Kevin Sinfield cuts a de­jected pic­ture af­ter the fi­nal whis­tle.

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