Leeds duly advanced into the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup, but only after the Super League hopefuls from South Wales had given an excellent account of themselves.
The Rhinos, sparked by eye-catching performances from a couple of their new wave, ran away with the tie in the second half, but were given a scare at the interval by two tries from Anthony Blackwood. Even when the game was beyond them, Crusaders continued to play good rugby and got a deserved third try through Mark Dalle Court.
With several regulars rested, Leeds gave a debut to two teenagers in their back division, with two more equally inexperienced youngsters on the bench. It was one of the newcomers, the 17-year-old centre, Kallum Watkins, who was responsible for Leeds taking a seventh-minute lead, latching on to Kevin Sinfield's deflected kick and putting Lee Smith over.
Another incisive piece of work from Watkins also contributed to the Rhinos' second, eventually scored by Scott Donald. A lovely piece of play by the other debutant set up the third try midway through the half, Ben Jones-Bishop's reverse pass releasing Keith Senior for Rob Burrow to score.
Celtic hit back with a try created by David Tangata-Toa's long pass to Dalle Cort and scored by Blackwood. Better still, four minutes before half-time Jace van Dijk again opened up the same flank with an even better long pass and Blackwood got over for his second. Mark Lennon's conversion from the touchline made it a mere four point gap.
Leeds eased any embarrassment when Matt Diskin went over three minutes after the break. The visitors were then unfortunate when Burrows's knocked-down pass bounced kindly for McGuire to score.
It was a try that had the Rhinos' future stamped on it when Jones-Bishop sent Watkins in for his first try at first-team level, and Senior then completed a length-of-the-field surge.
Dalle Court spun out of a tackle to peg one back for the Crusaders, who finished strongly. It proves nothing about their readiness for Super League next year, but they had not been disgraced.
Leeds: Jones-Bishop, Smith, Watkins, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Scruton, Peacock, Ablett, Sinfield. Substitutes: Williams, Burgess, Allan, Kaye
Celtic Crusaders: Lennon, Ballard, Hannay, Dalle Cort, Blackwood, Quinn, Van Dijk, James, Budworth, Dean, Beasley, Mapp, Wyatt. Substitutes: Webster, Summers, I'Anson, Tangata-Toa
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).Reuse content