A second-half rally saw Leeds overcome a dogged Halifax side. Here’s our verdict…
Leeds started the brighter and had the first chance within two minutes. An offload kept the ball alive and it was moved left by Richie Myler, who drove towards the corner and tried to get the pass away but knocked on under pressure from Chester Butler.
It didn’t take too much longer for the first try to come, with one of the few momenths of quality from the Rhinos in the first half. Again they worked the left edge, with Luke Briscoe getting an offload away and Joel Moon kicking back inside for Myler to touch down, with Liam Sutcliffe adding the extras.
The visitors continued to dominate the field position in the first 20 minutes, but failed to add to the scoreboard as Halifax held up strongly in defence on a number of occasions.
Fax got the first chance of their own on the back of a penalty for dissent which took them 20m from the Leeds line. Jacob Fairbank made a big drive for the line, but the ball went loose in the tackle and Matt Parcell was able to pick up in the in goal and bring it away.
The home side continued to grow, and applied more pressure after Adam Cuthbertson’s offload fell straight into the hands of Steve Tyrer. A knock on in the tackle gave Halifax another set, and on the last tackle Scott Murrell directed a chip towards the left corner, where Tyrer rose highest to claim and score.
The returning centre converted his score as well, and it remained level to the break despite Fax having the best of the final ten minutes of the half.
However, the Rhinos came back from the dressing room reinvigorated, and like in the first half they quickly punished the hosts. They set about the line with determination within a minute, and got through the defence thanks to a smart show and go from Brad Dwyer.
And with Leeds now back in control of the contest, it was the same man who provided the class to score again, with another Dwyer dummy fooling the Fax defence as the hooker dived over. Sutcliffe converted both to extend the advantage.
The stand-off then added a try of his own four minutes later, with a good line and some sharp footwork leaving the defence for dead as he ran clear to effectively to seal the match in favour of the Rhinos.
The momentum stayed with last season’s Super League champions, as they continued to threaten a tired Halifax defence that was becoming increasingly frustrated and ill-disciplined. After back-to-back penalties they were almost in again, as Brad Singleton was held centimtres short before Sutcliffe was carried into touch as he tried to cross in the corner.
That was followed by a better spell for Halifax, but it was the Rhinos who got the next points when Luke Briscoe cut inside from the left wing and managed to slip a pass away to Cameron Smith to crash over. Sutcliffe continued his perfect record from the tee to take them to 30 points.
With the hosts tiring further by the minute, they pierced through again as Smith burst forward, before sligning a long pass over to the left wing for Luke Briscoe to run into the corner.
Ben Heaton sat out the final three minutes after seeing yellow for a high shot on Tom Briscoe, when the winger had weaved past two defenders and threatened to go all the way before being struck down unceremoniously.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Leeds still struggling
The scoreline was comfortable enough in the end, but the performance was still far below what the champions of the land should be producing, and the season can’t end soon enough for them.
They were bright in the opening minutes when Parcell’s speed out of dummy half put their opponents under constant pressure, but they struggled for imagaination as the first half wore on and only threatened again when Halifax started to tire after the break.
Few players impressed, and there haven’t been many positives to take out of their Qualifiers campaign or the season as a whole.
Fax still showing spirit
A top five finish may already have been out of reach, but Halifax continued to show spirit in a first meeting with the Rhinos in 15 years.
The energy and tenacity down the middle had their visitors struggling to cope at times in the first half, although unsurprisingly those efforts showed in the second period as fatigue set in on the part-timers.
Man of the Match – Brad Dwyer (Leeds)
It was a match with few standouts at all for the Rhinos, but Dwyer’s two clever tries at the start of the second half turned the game in their favour and ensured a more comfortable afternoon for them in the end.
Drop Goals: n/a
Leeds Rhinos 34
Tries: Myler, Dwyer (2), Sutcliffe, Smith, L Briscoe
Goals: Sutcliffe (5)
Drop Goals: n/a
Halifax: Moss; Sharp, Butler, Tyrer, Woodburn-Hall; Murrell, Johnston; Fleming, Kaye, Fairbank; Grady, Tangata, Moore.
Interchanges: Jones, Heaton, Davies, Maher.
Leeds: Walker; T Briscoe, Keinhorst, Moon, L Briscoe; Sutcliffe, Myler; Crosby, Parcell, Singleton; Jones-Buchanan, Peteru, Thompson.
Interchanges: Dwyer, Walters, Smith, Cuthbertson.
Referee: Liam Moore