What would have been a play off for the play-offs between the Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR had turned into a fight for the fifth and sixth spots and a shoot out as to who will play the Warrington Wolves, and who will face the Wigan Warriors, next weekend.
The maths was simple, a Hull KR win, or a draw after Golden Point would see the Robins face the Warriors and the Rhinos at the Wolves while a Leeds win would see a reverse of that permutation.
Both sides named their strongest available seventeens as they both looked to gain some form of momentum to take into what will be a challenging potential road to Old Trafford.
Rob Lui stepped off both feet to waltz through a broken Hull KR defence to score from twenty metres for the Rhinos opener on thirteen minutes. Rhyse Martin added the conversion from the shadow of the uprights for a 6-0 lead.
KR struck back on sixteen with a try out of nothing with Mikey Lewis taking a Brad Takairangi pass after the Rhinos spilled the ball on the halfway line and sprinting down the right wing to score in the corner. Jordan Abdull kicked the conversion for 6-6.
On twenty-eight the Rhinos were back in front with Matt Prior crashing the KR line to score under the sticks and give Martyn a simple conversion for 12-6.
A fast play the ball and fast hands saw the Rhinos in for their third with Tom Holroyd on hand to take the pass ten metres out and go over by the uprights, Martyn again adding the conversion for 18-6, the Rhinos taking control of the game.
Ben Crooks spilled the ball just short of the line after a last-ditch ankle tap from Ash Handley, a tackle to save a try.
Two sensational passes, firstly from Lui and then Martyn put Richie Myler over for the Rhinos third as the half time hooter sounded. Martyn added the conversion for a 24-6 lead for the Rhinos, thoughts already turning to the play-off game against the Warriors.
Six minutes after the restart James Donaldson was grounded just short of the line after a Konrad Hurrell run but his momentum carried him over the line for the Rhinos fifth try of the night. It was an easy conversion for Martin for 30-6.
Richie Myler was the provider for a great try from Ash Handley as he went down the left wing avoiding a couple of tacklers to score one handed before being pushed into touch by the defenders. Martin converted brilliantly from the touchline for 36-6, Hull KR supporters now looking towards next weekend’s encounter with Warrington.
An awful mistake by Crooks, dropping the ball over the line, let the Rhinos off the hook when he was a certainty to score.
Will Dagger picked up a seventy-fourth minute consolation after taking a pass ten metres out and running the angle to dive over. Abdull added the extras but KR were still twenty-four behind with just five minutes remaining.
Tonight’s game was all about league position and it was the Rhinos who triumphed, comfortably in the end, to set up a Thursday night game against the Wigan Warriors while the Robins have to travel to the Halliwell-Jones on Friday. Leeds will go forward full of confidence, KR will need to up their game to make progress beyond the opening round of the play-offs.
Leeds Rhinos: Broadbent, Briscoe L, Newman, Briscoe T, Handley (T), Lui (T), Myler (T), Thompson, Leeming, Prior (T), Gannon, Martin (6G), Smith. Subs: Hurrell, Dwyer, Holroyd (T), Donaldson (T).
Hull KR: Dagger (T), Crooks, Takairangi, Kenny-Dowall, Keinhorst, Lewis (T), Abdull (2G), King, Parcell, Maher, Linnett, Johnson, Storton. Subs: Sims, Litten, Mustapha, Tate.
Referee: Chris Kendall.
Score Progression: 4-0, 6-0, 6-4, 6-6, 10-6, 12-6, 16-6, 18-6, 22-6, 24-6 : HT : 28-6, 30-6, 34-6, 36-6, 36-10, 36-12 : FT.