Leeds 12 Hull KR 16: Rhinos’ title hopes hit by brave Rovers

 

Headingley

The Champions became the second high-profile casualties in 24 hours of a Super League that genuinely has become wildly unpredictable.

Leeds stood to go level on points with third-placed Wigan if they could beat a depleted Humberside line-up, but they were defied by a performance every bit as gutsy as Widnes’ at Warrington the previous night.

With their record of winning Super League titles from further down the table, Leeds cannot be expected to be unduly stressed about whether they finish third or fourth this time. It is much more a question of what their current form is like going into the play-offs and the signs at Headingley last night were very mixed.

Rovers, with a play-off place of their own to hang on to, but 10 first-teamers missing, made life fiendishly difficult in a first half which ended with them deservedly in front.

Some magnificent defending then enabled them to stay in the lead despite a late Leeds surge.

It took the Rhinos 19 minutes to make their breakthrough, with perhaps the best of this year’s new crop, Liam Sutcliffe, making the burst that set up Kallum Watkins. Rovers hit back swiftly, Leeds failing to deal with a typical Michael Dobson kick for the corner and Jordan Cox latching on to it to score.

A minute from the break, a bullocking run down the left from the big forward, Rhys Lovegrove, put the Robins ahead and comparisons with Widnes’ winning performance at Warrington were becoming irresistible.

They stretched their improbable lead with a Dobson penalty after the interval, but Leeds built pressure inexorably until it seemed that they must score.

Instead, they turned the heat back on the Rhinos with another penalty from the immaculate Dobson. Ryan Hall went desperately close from Kevin Sinfield’s kick, but the Robins held on, despite near-exhaustion, with the sort of determination that wins impossible victories.

Seven minutes from time, however, great work from the young winger, James Duckworth, put Watkins over for his second. That guaranteed a nerve-wracking last few plays, but the Robins deserved to hang on to win. Also last night Hull beat Salford 18-13.

Leeds: Jones-Bishop, Duckworth, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, McShane, Peacock, Ablett, Clarkson, Sutcliffe. Substitutes used: Foster, Moore, Kirke, Singleton.

Hull K R: Hall, D Hodgson, Salter, Gleeson, Caro, Burns, Dobson, Tuimavave, J. Hodgson, Walker, Lovegrove, Cox, Mika. Substitutes used: Withers, Netherton, Ollett, Green.

Referee: R Silverwood.

News
news
News
The cartoon depicts the UK (far left) walking around a Syrian child refugee
newsIn an exclusive artwork for The Independent, Ali Ferzat attacks Britain's lack of 'humanity'
Life and Style
Man taking selfie in front of car
health
Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day