Mathers seals it for Leeds

Hull FC 12 Leeds Rhinos 23
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The Independent Online

Three tries in five minutes, after an enthralling but scoreless first half, saw Leeds extend their lead at the top of Super League last night. Richard Mathers capped an outstanding performance with a vital try, but this was a remarkable spectacle.

Three tries in five minutes, after an enthralling but scoreless first half, saw Leeds extend their lead at the top of Super League last night. Richard Mathers capped an outstanding performance with a vital try, but this was a remarkable spectacle.

Hull might have fallen short of the record-breaking attendance for which they had been hoping, but matches against Leeds rarely lack anything in atmosphere or intensity. This was no exception, despite remaining scoreless for so long.

Leeds, thrashed by St Helens last time they went away, started like a side with something to prove, and a couple of early attacks had Hull stretched to the limit. The home side came closest to an opener, however, when Shaun Briscoe almost touched down from Paul Cooke's clever kick. Mark Calderwood nearly reached his own kick ahead at the other end, but the game remained tryless, even when Calderwood got to Andrew Dunemann's kick and flicked it on for Chris Feather, who knocked on with the line open. Mathers also fumbled after a lovely move involving Keith Senior and Marcus Bai.

A wonderful tackle from Paul King then denied Mathers after an equally good pass from Matt Adamson, while Adamson himself was held up over the line as Hull scrambled heroically.

The last time they played at the KC Stadium Hull had put 82 points past Salford, but this time the Leeds defence held firm to keep out Briscoe and complete the rarity of a scoreless first half.

Gareth Raynor looked certain to score after the break but Calderwood knocked the ball loose as he crossed the line. It took something special to break the deadlock, when after 42 minutes Richard Horne took King's pass, dummied and darted over for a try which Cooke converted.

That started a rush of points, Rob Burrow and Senior combining to lay on a try for Mathers, even though the final pass looked forward, and Sinfield kicking the equalising goal. Three minutes later Dunemann and Sinfield set up Burrow, swiftly followed by David Furner's break, which saw Cooke catch Mathers only for Danny McGuire to go over from the next play-the-ball.

After an amazing run by Raynor, Hull hit back through Cooke's try and goal. Sinfield's drop goal gave Leeds some extra insurance and they made the game safe five minutes from time, when Sinfield kicked for Bai and Burrow supported to score his second.

Hull FC: Briscoe; Best, Barnett, Yeaman, Raynor; Cooke, R Horne; King, Swain, Dowes, McMenemy, McNicholas, Chester. Substitutes used: Whiting, G Horne, Lupton, Higgins.

Leeds Rhinos: Mathers; Calderwood, McKenna, Senior, Bai; McGuire, Dunemann; Bailey, Diskin, McDonald, Furner, Adamson, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Burrow, Cummins, McDermott, Feather.

Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).

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