Leeds 20 Hull KR 12: Smith leaves it late to finish off Rovers

A late surge, sparked by two tries from their young winger, Lee Smith, saw Leeds launch the defence of their Super League title with a precarious victory.

Rovers, who finished 11th in their first season among the elite last year, held their own for most of the game and only went home empty-handed because they were ultimately worn down by the Rhinos' pressure.

Despite defending an eight-point lead as though their lives depended on it, the Robins cracked when some typically expansive ball movement took play across field for Clinton Toopi's pass to allow Smith to squeeze in at the corner.

Eight minutes from time, Danny McGuire jabbed through a little kick near the Rovers' line, Brett Galea could not clean it up and Smith won the contest to get downward pressure on the ball.

Kevin Sinfield landed the conversion and was on the mark again to complete a thoroughly flattering final scoreline after McGuire got over with the last play of the night.

Rovers, with no less than nine newcomers in their team, had done enough to suggest that they are going to be hard to beat this year.

After Scott Donald had given Leeds the lead, it was one of those new boys who threatened to be Rovers' match-winner.

Jake Webster, the New Zealand international three-quarter, was a handful from the start and it was he that leveled the scores, finishing off a neat run-around move worked by Ben Cockayne and Clint Newton.

He also landed the penalty that gave the visitors a shock half-time lead after Gareth Ellis had strayed offside.

His finest moment, however, came when he raced half the length of the field for a glorious second try that gave his side a real chance to win at Headingley for the first time since 1985.

There were already some warning signs, though. Ali Lauitiiti had twice been within a finger-tip of opening up the Robins' defence with sublime offloads to Brent Webb, and tiring Hull KR players were conceding too many penalties.

"Our effort was excellent, but we didn't get our brains in gear for the full 80 minutes," said their coach, Justin Morgan. "We didn't have much possession in the second half and eventually we ran out of petrol."

Leeds' Brian McClennan knows his side will have to play a lot better to retain their title, but this was a tricky first match in charge, safely got out of the way.

"Our attack was pretty flat, but as the game went on we started to find our rhythm," he said..

Leeds: Webb, Smith, Toopi, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Kirke, Ellis, Sinfield. Substitutes: Lauitiiti, Bailey, Scruton, Ablett.

Hull KR: Briscoe, Fox, Walker, Jake Webster, Fitzhenry, Chester, James Webster, Vella, Netherton, Mills, Galea, Newton, Murrell. Substitutes: Crossman, Gene, Aizue, Cockayne.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable