Lauiti'iti ends Hull's hopes of upset to keep Leeds on top

Leeds 28 Hull 24
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The Independent Online

Leeds preserved their unbeaten home record and stretched their lead at the top of the Super League, but it took the special skills of Ali Lauiti'iti to beat off the challenge of Hull.

Leeds preserved their unbeaten home record and stretched their lead at the top of the Super League, but it took the special skills of Ali Lauiti'iti to beat off the challenge of Hull.

Lauiti'iti's second try of the night, his fifth in five games, gave the Rhinos the crucial break in a contest which Hull had often threatened to win.

Leeds were trailing with 13 minutes to play when the Kiwi Test forward Lauiti'iti thundered down the left, fended off tacklers, got the ball away to Marcus Bai and took the return for the game's pivotal move.

"He's a class player and he came up with some great plays,'' said his coach, Tony Smith. "He's getting more and more comfortable within the team. He's come in from the outside and noticed how close we are.'' It was Lauiti'iti who gave his side the lead after 18 minutes, running at a gap with a purpose that demanded the ball from Andrew Dunemann.

Bai was also involved in the second try on the half hour. He caught Kevin Sinfield's kick and sent it instinctively over his shoulder for Keith Senior to score.

Hull came back into the game via the video referee and the rare award of a penalty try when Richard Horne was tackled without the ball by Richard Mathers, who was sinbinned for his effort.

Three minutes later, Hull were in the lead, Richard Swain and Horne gaining ground with some delightful interplay and Peter Lupton's inside ball sending Nick Scruton, on loan from Leeds, over the line.

Leeds regained the initiative soon after half-time when Gareth Raynor lost Dunemann's bomb under pressure and Chev Walker touched down.

Third-placed Hull were full of resolve and enterprise, however, and they hit the front again through Paul Cooke's brilliantly disguised kick for Sean Briscoe. Cooke added the goal but hit the post with a penalty, leaving the door ajar for Leeds.

Lauiti'iti was the man to crash through it, quickly followed by a try from Jamie Jones-Buchanan and three goals from the stand-in kicker, Rob Burrow.

"They haven't had to come from behind very often this season and there might have been some question marks over us after our defeat at Wigan, but we found a way to do it,'' said Smith.

Colin Best's last-minute try came too late for Hull, but John Kear was particularly pleased with the efforts of young players who will surely get better for the experience.

Leeds: Mathers, Cummings, Walker, Senior, Bai, Dunemann, Burrow, McDonald, Diskin, R Bailey, Lauiti'iti, Feather, Sinfield. Substitutes: McKenna, McDermott, Jones-Buchanan, Ward.

Hull: Briscoe, Best, Whiting, Eager, Raynor, Cooke, Horne, King, Swain, Dowes, McNicholas, McMenemy, Lupton. Substitutes: Wilkinson, Higgins, A Bailey, Scruton.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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