Leeds Rhinos kicked off their Super League season with a 28-22 win over Wakefield Trinity in a thrilling West Yorkshire Derby at Emerald Headingley on Saturday.
Leeds headed into this game as the favourites but Wigan Warriors' close shave against Leigh Centurions last night proved that underestimating supposedly “weaker” opponents could easily result in disaster and this afternoon Wakefield also ran their opponents close in a game that could in all honesty have gone either way.
Leeds were first on the board as Luke Briscoe went over in the corner but Trinity soon hit the Rhinos hard with three tries in a 10-minute spell. Tom Johnstone supplied a trademark finish to level the scores, then Innes Senior crossed in the opposite corner before Matty Ashurst took Jacob Miller’s pass to send Wakefield into a surprise 16-4 lead.
But the Rhinos hit back with a triple salvo of their own, Alex Sutcliffe, Brad Dwyer and Richie Myler all crossing before the break to send the eight-time Super League champions into the break with a 22-16 lead.
The score was levelled to 22-22 early in the second half when Johnstone plucked a cross-kick from under pressure Luke Gale from the air and scored a stunning length of the field try, his second of the day.
The Rhinos were forced to dig deep in the wake of a potential opening day upset and managed to capitalise on lapse of concentration within the Wakefield ranks on the 58th minute when Jack Broadbent scored the only try of the half for his side, taking the score to 26-22, with Rhyse Martin unable to score the subsequent conversion. The Rhinos then seemed to up the tempo to grind out a hard-fought win, with Martin adding a fourth conversion of the match on the 75th minute.
It certainly wasn’t a polished performance form the Rhinos, but they got the job done.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Super League fans were served another treat in the form of an absolute blockbuster between Catalan Dragons and Hull KR.
The Dragons had been 28-4 up, courtesy of two tries from Fouad Yaha and a try-a-piece from Matt Whitley, Mathieu Laguerre and Ben Garcia. Hull KR, however, romped back into the tie with second half tries from Ryan Hall, who scored a hat-trick across the night, Mikey Lewis and George King, to bring the scores level at 28-28, taking the game to golden point.
Despite the spirited comeback it was ultimately heartbreak for Rovers, when Dragons' James Maloney scored a drop goal, sealing a 29-28 victory over the Yorkshire side.