McGuire pulls strings in Rhinos' charge

Harlequins 14 Leeds 48
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The Independent Online

Kevin Sinfield led the way as Leeds firmly rebuffed any aspiration Quins had to supplant them in second place in the Super League table. The Rhinos' captain marked a personal milestone by settling his side after a shaky start and scoring 20 points from a try and eight goals from eight attempts. It was a sobering experience for Harlequins, whose five wins in their last six games included a win at Leeds.

Quins dominated the early stages, forcing a series of Leeds errors and only disappointing themselves by scoring a single try. That came when Danny Orr flung out a long pass for Chris Melling to take and score in the corner. Somehow Leeds managed to avoid further damage. Better than that, they hit back with two quick tries to more than repair the damage.

Danny McGuire was heavily involved in both, putting through the kick which Sinfield reached for a try to celebrate his 350th career appearance and then getting on the end of an incisive handling move for one of his own, again converted.

Orr's pinpoint cross-field kick created Quins' reply, Will Sharp winning it in the air and David Howell touching down, but the latter stages of the half belonged to the Rhinos.

After Ali Lauitiiti had lost the ball over the line and Daniel Heckenberg had gone equally close for Quins, only to be denied by Brent Webb's in-goal tackle, Rob Burrow's break put Jamie Jones-Buchanan over. Sinfield kicked that conversion, plus an offside penalty on the stroke of half-time for a 12-point lead that hardly looked likely in their error-strewn opening phase.

The second half began catastrophically for Quins, with Sharp suffering a brainstorm by passing wildly into touch and Scott Donald scoring on the opposite wing from the resulting scrum. Lauitiiti and Keith Senior then linked beautifully to send Webb in for the fifth Leeds try. Quins had fallen apart in a way that made a mockery of their recent run of exhilarating form.

Danny Buderus took further advantage with his first try for Leeds, with Sinfield keeping up his immaculate goal-kicking. Lee Smith claimed his first try since confirming that he is leaving at the end of the season.

Chad Randall got one back for Quins, but they had been on the receiving end of a vintage Leeds performance rounded off by Ryan Hall's try.

Harlequins: Wells; Melling, Gafa, Howell, Sharp; Orr, Gale; Temata, Randall, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Williamson, Clubb, Golden. Substitutes used: Heckenberg, Ward, Mbu, Gardner.

Leeds: Webb; Donald, Smith, Senior, Hall; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan, Sinfield. Substitutes used: Lauitiiti, Burgess, Worrall, Watkins.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).