Leeds made their expected progress through to the last eight of the Powergen Challenge Cup last night, overcoming initial resistance from their National League opponents to eventually post 12 tries in a muted affair at Headingley Carnegie.
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield's return after a six-week absence with knee and ankle injuries was a boost for the Rhinos and probably the highlight of their evening. Sinfield, who had a hand in three tries and kicked three goals, played the first 72 minutes and looked like he had never been away, winning the man of the match award.
After hitting a recent form blip, with two defeats in their last three league games, Leeds struggled for fluency at times in the first half as Rochdale defended with terrific determination and spirit. But Hornets were always facing an exercise in damage limitation.
Eight different Leeds players scored tries with Australian winger Scott Donald leading the way with a hat-trick. Teenage wing Danny Williams crossed twice in the opening 10 minutes and Carl Ablett notched his first two tries for the club. Shane Millard, Danny McGuire, Chev Walker, Nick Scruton and Chris Feather also went over for the Rhinos, who led 26-0 at the interval. Rob Burrow added six goals
"It was a professional performance," said Tony Smith, the Leeds coach. "We went about it in the right manner and it was a good effort by [us] and the opposition."
Darren Abram, the Rochdale coach, said: "We needed a miracle, but we wanted to come out of the game with respect, and we did that."
Leeds: Smith; Donald, Walker, Senior, Williams; McGuire, Burrow; Scruton, Millard, O'Neill, Poching, Kirke, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Bailey, Feather, Ablett, Lauitiiti.
Rochdale: Giles; McCully, Varkulis, Anderson, Patterson; Butterworth, Firth; Hill, McConnell, Sturm, Gorski, Doran, Goulden. Substitutes used: Cantillon, Farrell, Robinson, Norman.
Referee: P Taberner (Wigan).Reuse content