Lauitiiti leads Rhinos' rout of London

Leeds Rhinos 64 - London Broncos 6
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The Independent Online

The return of Ali Lauitiiti provided the spark as Leeds consolidated their position at the top of Super League with a convincing victory that became embarrassingly one-sided in the second half.

Lauitiiti's absence in New Zealand following the death of his grandmother coincided with the Rhinos' first dip in form this season. Last night he scored the first of Leeds' 13 tries, set up two more and, along with an equally commanding performance from the Great Britain prop Ryan Bailey, helped the Broncos into the role of also-rans.

Leeds began strongly with their full-back, Richard Mathers, turning a dangerous kick from Thomas Leuluai into a counter-attack that went the length of the field, for Lauitiiti to plough over.

Kevin Sinfield's conversion attempt hit the post and the Rhinos had to spend an extended period after that defending their line. But London's attack lacked its customary spark.

After 23 minutes Leeds went further ahead, thanks initially to a storming run through the middle by Bailey. That gave Sinfield the chance to launch a high kick, Mark Calderwood palming the ball back for Willie Poching to score.

Three minutes later, Leeds kept the ball alive on the last tackle of a set, culminating in Lauitiiti getting a quick pass away for Keith Senior to cross the line.

The Broncos hit back when Danny McGuire lost the ball in a heavy tackle and Leuluai employed some dazzling footwork to outwit the Leeds defence. Paul Sykes added the goal to reduce the lead to a modest eight points.

The gap could have been narrowed further if Wells had not lost the ball near the Rhinos' line after a sweeping London attack. The visitors paid for that when they conceded two tries before half-time, Lauitiiti getting his arms free to give McGuire his first try since his return from surgery and Chev Walker getting behind Wells to claim Mathers' kick.

Bailey continued his excellent contribution with some agile footwork and a lovely pass to send McGuire over for his second early in the second half. The acceleration of Rob Burrow and some ineffectual tackling brought Leeds their seventh try, before Marcus Bai's charging run set up Mathers.

Bai scored one of his own from McGuire's long pass as the Bronco's defence continued to fall apart. Spectacular runs from Poching and Mathers produced a second for Senior, who then returned the compliment by putting one on a plate for Mathers.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan's break gave Bai his second and the Bai completed his hat-trick from Andrew Dunemann's kick in the last minute.

Leeds: Mathers; Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai; Sinfield, Burrow; Bailey, Dunemann, Ward, Lauitiiti, Poching, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes used: McGuire, Scruton, McDermott, Botham.

London: Luisi; Bradley-Qalilawa, Sykes, O'Halloran, Wells; Dorn, Leuluai; Trindall, McLinden, Armour, Haumono, Hopkins, Lolohea. Substitutes used: Highton, Williams, Mbu, Tookey.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).