Humble pie has never tasted so good…
As a Rhinos fan, it’s been awful to watch the champions’ decline this season. Before kick-off, with Hull FC on fire, even the most optimistic supporters (myself included) were bracing themselves for another defeat.
It’s enormously heartening for everyone connected with the Headingley club to see the character shown by the men in blue-and-amber last night. Although it’s only their third win of the season, the squad has shown that the foundations are there to build something this campaign.
After my doom laden preview, every metaphorical mouthful tastes wonderful.
Conditions aren’t the only thing to rain on Airlie Birds’ parade
Horrendous playing conditions made it a challenging 80 minutes for both sides. After a Frank Pritchard pass was intercepted, Leeds surged forward. Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s determined drive got the home side within five metres of the line and a slick sequence of passes put Jimmy Keinhorst in to open the scoring.
Hull were quick to reply, driving hard through the middle with Chris Green writhing free of the Leeds defenders to slide under the posts to level the scores.
Leeds roared back and after Hull conceded a penalty for offside, teenage halfback Jordan Lilley pinged over the two pointer to edge the Rhinos ahead once again.
The ebb and flow continued in the second half, with a cute offload from Liam Watts putting Frank Pritchard through, with the Kiwi second row making 30 metres. TheTank’s rumble forward gained field position for Sneyd to pop a grubber through for Kirk Yeaman to retake the lead.
Leeds were not to be denied, however, with Jordan Lilley and then Jamie Jones-Buchanan both scoring tries that were no less than their individual efforts deserved. Hull showed true grit to push the home side right to the final hooter – Danny Houghton pulled a try back to make for a nailbiting finish, but the Rhinos held on to secure the win.
Jordan Lilley is the real deal
The young halfback was a deserved man-of-the-match, converting all three tries, including his own, and adding a penalty goal which ultimately made the difference to the final score. For a teenage player to show such poise and composure, under such enormous pressure, and in appalling playing conditions is nothing short of sensational.
Although Lilley only started the game because of an injury to captain Danny McGuire, surely his performance merits a continued run in the side, even if it’s at the expense of the skipper himself.
Onwards and upwards for the Black and Whites
The fact that Hull FC will be disappointed to have come away from Headingley pointless, shows how far they’ve come in such a short space of time. Lee Radford’s men remain one of the form teams of Super League XXI, and despite last night’s setback, are certain to be one of the sides pushing for a top four place at the business end of the season.
Leeds turned in a great performance, but Hull were hard on their heels right to the end and were competitive throughout a see-sawing 80 minutes.
With the exception of the Widnes debacle, Black and Whites fans can take heart from the slender margin of their remaining defeats this season, including last night’s fixture. On their day, the Airlie Birds remain a match for any team in Super League.
Leeds (8) 20
Tries: Keinhorst, Lilley, Jones-Buchanan
Goals: Lilley 4
Hull FC (6) 18
Tries: Green, Yeaman, Sneyd
Goals: Sneyd 3