Toronto stay in the hunt for automatic promotion with a dramatic victory at Leeds. Here’s our verdict…
The match was highly anticipated, as Leeds and Toronto met for the first time with the visitors chasing a place in Super League.
Toronto nearly drew first blood with a close effort from winger Mason Caton-Brown going in, but he was pushed into touch as the two sides got to grips with each other early on.
Unsurprisingly, Cory Paterson was to have another strong game for the Wolfpack, and the former Leigh front rower opened the scoring with a damaging run through to collect a pass and go over to the left-hand side of the sticks, with Gareth O’Brien kicking the conversion.
The home side then hit back with some sets in the face of Paul Rowley’s side, and threatening runs from hooker Matt Parcell were troubling the Canadian outfit. With the two Briscoes on the Leeds flanks, Toronto had some issues and it was an odd kick which was put in for Tom Briscoe to dive on top of to score. The conversion was missed and O’Brien then added a penalty to edge Toronto further in front.
There was a quick turnaround though, with Liam Sutcliffe running in with a great leap to score Leeds’ second try, with the young centre converting his try to make it 10-8 in favour of the Rhinos.
Leeds kept on the front foot, but right on the verge of half-time Toronto kept the ball alive to the dead, and former Hull FC youngster Nick Rawsthorne was played in to edge them back ahead.
Paul Rowley had set up his pack to stay stubborn and not let Leeds in, and they did they frustrated the Rhinos until the finally found a way through in the 56th minute as Jimmy Keinhorst, who has been on loan at Widnes earlier in the season, scored a try to put Leeds 16-12 ahead after Liam Sutcliffe’s conversion attempt.
Winger Matty Russell scored in Toronto’s crucial victory over the Widnes last week, and after many dropped balls and penalties given away in a scrappy contest, the ex-Warrington man scored another crucial try in the corner to level the scores with fourteen minutes left.
As the clock wound town there were missed drop goal attempts from both sides, but there was something inevitable about the eventual match-winner. He did it in the Million Pound Game in 2016 for Salford, he did it not so long ago for Toronto against Toulouse, he kicked one last week against Widnes for the Wolfpack… and again Gareth O’Brien stepped up. The Toronto full-back took the responsibility on as kicker and dropped a goal four minutes from time, and his side held out for a famous victory.
The Wolfpack now have to sit tight and hope Hull Kingston Rovers fail to beat Widnes by more than 13 points on Sunday, otherwise they will be back in action next week in the Million Pound Game.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Gareth O’Brien (Toronto Wolfpack)
He’s made quite the habit of it, and after a consistent performance at the back, O’Brien was the man to step up and be the match-winner again to boost their hopes of securing a place in Super League.
Leeds Rhinos 16
Tries: T Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Keinhorst
Goals: Sutcliffe (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Toronto Wolfpack 17
Tries: Paterson, Rawsthorne, Russell
Goals: O’Brien (2)
Drop Goals: O’Brien
Leeds: Golding; T Briscoe, Keinhorst, Moon, L Briscoe; L. Sutcliffe, Myler; Peteru, Parcell, Crosby, Jones-Buchanan, Ferres, Thompson.
Interchanges: Dwyer, C Smith, C Smith, Mullally, Cuthbertson.
Toronto Wolfpack: O’Brien; Caton-Brown, Rawsthorne, Wheeler, Russell; McCrone, Wallace; Lussick, Beswick, Sims, Paterson, Dixon, Emmitt
Interchanges: Buchanan, Sidlow, Krasniqi, Ackers.
Referee: Robert Hicks