Kevin Sinfield’s Leeds side secures the first win of his reign with a big win over a beleaguered Widnes at Emerald Headingley…..
Leeds Rhinos halted their nine-game winless run and secured the first victory of the Kevin Sinfield era with a comprehensive 34-0 victory over Widnes to keep their top eight hopes alive.
The Rhinos ran in seven tries in total and were largely dominant throughout, but must still rely on other results if they are to avoid a second Qualifiers in three years.
Despite having Danny Walker sin-binned for a dangerous tackle early on, the home side didn’t crack the stubborn Rhinos resistance until close to the quarter mark, when former Warrington man Brad Dwyer jinked his way past Owen Buckley and Olly Ashall-Bott to touch down.
The Vikings could’ve levelled matters shortly later, but Joe Mellor couldn’t take a pass from Krisnan Inu, who had broken well downfield. Instead, the hosts doubled their try-scoring tally as Luke Briscoe reacted first to the loose ball and raced over 60 metres to score.
The Rhinos added two further first-half tries thanks to Richie Myler’s close-range score and Matt Parcell’s break through the Vikings rearguard, after his team-mates had superbly kept the ball alive.
Joel Moon stepped through three Widnes defenders one minute after the interval to put the game beyond their grasp, before Tom Briscoe and Jack Walker both capitalised on right-edge plays to get tries of their own.
In reality, Widnes did have some opportunities in the first half, but appeared to lack the cutting edge and spark needed to unlock the Rhinos defence at pivotal points in the game.
Head Coach Francis Cummins will have to reflect on a 15th straight league defeat, something which will need to change rapidly if they are to avoid dropping out the top flight for the first time since 2012.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
When it rains, it pours
The Vikings have had reason to bemoan poor fortune and arduous refereeing decisions in recent weeks, and it was yet another game of ‘what if’s’ for the black-and-whites.
The decision to hand Danny Walker a yellow card in the first half seemed harsh at best, with the Vikings ultimately going behind during that period.
Widnes were their own worst enemies at times and had chances to score, but the Rhinos were able to ruthlessly capitalise on the slightest mistake, as highlighted by their second score of the game. If they keep making such a high volume of individual errors and collective lapses in concentration, the middle 8s could prove to be a long old road.
Sinfield off the mark
After defeat to Castleford and a draw against Wakefield, Kevin Sinfield will be happy to get the monkey off his back and secure the first win of his managerial tenure at the club.
Albeit against a significantly poor Widnes team lacking in confidence, the Rhinos were still able to produce a consummately professional performance and really manage to put Widnes to the sword in the latter stages of the first half.
As we know, anything can happen in the middle 8s, as the form book is thrown out of the window for seven long game weeks. If the Rhinos do end up there, which could be likely, they know that they must stay in the division by any means necessary, regardless of the type of performance they put in. However, before all that, this result has at least given them a glimmer of hope of a top eight spot.
Man Of The Match- Brad Dwyer (Leeds Rhinos)
Dwyer was far and away the liveliest player on the pitch and produced some real displays of determination and endeavour, especially in the early stages of the contest.
He made two good line breaks and helped tire the Vikings ruck out early on in the clash. Without his speed and agility, Leeds may not have had a platform to build on going into the second half of the game.
Tries: Dwyer, L. Briscoe, Myler, Parcell, Moon, T.Briscoe, Walker
Goals: Myler 3
Drop Goals: n/a
Drop Goals: n/a
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, T. Briscoe, Handley, Hall, L. Briscoe, Moon, Myler, Garbutt, Dwyer, Singleton, L. Sutcliffe, Ablett, Cuthbertson.
Replacements: Oledzki, Keinhorst, Crosby, Parcell.
Widnes Vikings: Ashall-Bott, Ah Van, Runciman, Inu, Buckley, Mellor, Craven, T. Chapelhow, D. Walker, Dudson, Whitley, Hauraki, Leuluai.
Replacements: Wilde, Wellington, B. Walker, J. Chapelhow.
Referee: J. Child