Hay sinks bumbling Broncos

Leeds Rhinos 48 London Broncos 6
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The Independent Online

London opened their Super League season with a dismal display that made a mockery of any hopes of a play-off place. Andy Hay led the way with four tries, but this was a day on which it was easy for any Leeds player to make hay against a Broncos defence that lacked commitment to its task.

Hay admitted that Hull Kingston Rovers of the Northern Ford Premiership had given them a hard time in the Challenge Cup and the Leeds coach, Daryl Powell, said: "I would have expected them to come up with a better quality performance.''

London's problems began early, with Nigel Roy making a mess of Ben Walker's low kick to let Matt Adamson touch down. Hay went right through Richie Barnett's tackle for his first and Leeds continued to score at a point a minute when Adamson's pass sent Darren Fleary away.

The heavily sanded and cut-up Headingley pitch was doing more than London to slow the Rhinos down. Walker and Ryan Sheridan both went off with injuries and Leeds lost their momentum for a while until the outstanding Kevin Sinfield sent Hay in for his second.

Fleary's pass gave Sinfield one of his own before half-time and the game was already well beyond the Broncos, even though their coach, Tony Rea, felt winning the toss and playing towards the worst of the mud had been a big advantage for Leeds in the first half.

There was no noticeable improvement after the break. Sinfield sliced through to send Rob Burrow away with an inside pass and Matt Diskin went straight through another Broncos tackle, this time from Francis Stephenson, for Leeds' sixth try. Hay collected his hat-trick from Burrows kick ahead, before London got a token effort on the board, Jim Dymock putting Michael Gillett through a gap.

Inevitably, Leeds had the last word, Burrow's pass being knocked down and Hay picking up to complete a memorable afternoon for him and a miserable one for the visitors.

"The players are hurting like hell in there,'' Rea said. "We really wanted to get the season away to a good start, but we let ourselves down defensively." With Wigan the visitors to London next Saturday, Rea admitted it would need "a massive turn around'' to start to repair the damage.

Leeds: Cummins; St Hilaire, C Walker, Senior, Calderwood; B Walker, Sheridan; Fleary, Diskin, McDermott, Hay, Adamson, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Burrow, Poching, McDonald, Jones-Buchanan.

London: Barnett; Jackson, Martin, Purdham, Roy; Dymock, Moran; Cram, Budworth, Marshall, Evans, Bawden, Toshack. Substitutes used: Gillett, Stephenson, Houles, Hall.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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