Hall leads Leeds in Dragon-slaying

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The Independent Online

Leeds made short work of the team that finished immediately behind them in Super League last season, thrashing the Catalan Dragons 36-16 with a first-half exhibition of attacking rugby at a sun-lit Murrayfield.

The Rhinos' leading try scorer, Ryan Hall, led the way with two, the second of them a long-range spectacular from a marvellous pass by Ali Lauitiiti. Rob Burrow, Jamie Peacock and Brent Webb also got over as Leeds carved out a 30-point lead, but the French side did come back after the break.

Tries from Kane Bentley and Olivier Elima narrowed the margin, with Scott Donald keeping the Rhinos well in command before Casey McGuire had the last word for the Dragons.

A combination of good luck and some questionable judgements saw Hull escape from Murrayfield with two points. Trailing to two sublime pieces of skill from their former wingman, Kirk Dixon, Hull got the rub of the green in the final quarter to draw level with Richard Whiting's try, take the lead with a crazy penalty and seal victory with a highly controversial try from Danny Washbrook five minutes from time.

It would take more than a change of country to reverse the fortunes of the Celtic Crusaders, who returned from Edinburgh still without a win in Super League. In a low-key opening match of the day it was all too easy for Huddersfield, whose 40-16 victory moved them, at least temporarily, up to second place in the table.

Their captain, Brett Hodgson claimed the first try after three minutes and he was followed by Danny Kirmond, Scott Moore, Michael Korkidas and two from Lunt. The Crusaders got some reward with tries from Chris Beasley, Anthony Blackwood and David Tangata-Toa, but Simon Finnigan added to Huddersfield's commanding lead.