Bell wiser for defeats

Adelaide Rams 34 Leeds Rhinos 8
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The Independent Online
Leeds Rhinos fly home from Adelaide today sadder but wiser. Their World Club Championship hopes are in tatters after yesterday's 34-8 defeat by Adelaide Rams, but the Rhinos are determined to push Bradford Bulls all the way when the Super League resumes on 29 June.

For the second successive week the Rhinos were thoroughly outplayed and, after their 42-20 loss to North Queensland last Saturday, they leave Australia without a win. Leeds went into the break yesterday just four points in arrears, 8-4 down, but finished the match on the wrong end of a six-try drubbing.

Their chances were not helped by full-back Damian Gibson spending 10 minutes in the sin bin soon after the break for a professional foul and then substitute Terry Newton being sent off in the 63rd minute for an alleged spear tackle on the Adelaide second-rower, David Boughton.

"We have no excuses, we were outplayed," said the Leeds captain, Gary Mercer. "They were the better side. We'll head back to England and concentrate on that." Second-placed Leeds, who play Bradford Bulls at Headingley in their first game back, can still catch the leaders, who have a seven-point lead going into the final eight rounds.

Their coach Dean Bell said that, like most of the British clubs, Leeds were on a learning curve and were returning to England with added knowledge. "There is a huge gap to bridge and playing the Aussie clubs is one way of improving our own standards. The defeats have hurt - but they have taught us a lot. We've got to keep playing them and learning."

Adelaide was hit by torrential rain in the hours before kick-off, and the Rhinos appeared to handle the wet and slippery conditions better than their hosts during the opening exchanges. They were quick to seize the initiative after a Rams mistake in the second minute. The prop Barrie McDermott opened up the Adelaide defence and sent scrum-half Ryan Sheridan on a 40-metre run to the posts. Iestyn Harris' attempted conversion hit one of the uprights and bounced away.

It was a brief hurrah for Leeds. In the ninth minute, hooker Kerrod Walters, who had been singled out by Bell as a real threat to the Rhinos, found a gap in the visitors' defence. He fed the ball to the loose forward Cameron Blair, who then set up centre Chris Quinn for the first try. Once Leeds were reduced to 12 players, holding the Adelaide onslaught proved an exercise in futility.

The Rams are looking for a big score against Oldham next weekend to put them in the box seat for the one Australian spot from Pool B in the finals series.

Adelaide Rams: Maybon; Simonds, Quinn, Kiri, Maguire; Williamson, Schifilliti; Cann, Walters, Corvo, Mamando, Broughton, Blair.

Leeds Rhinos: Gibson; Sterling, Hassan, Cummins, Rivett; Harris, Sheridan; Masella, Collins, McDermott, Farrell, Morley, Mercer.

Referee: S Clark.

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