McGuire rescues Leeds from hell at hands of 12-man Hull

Hull 14 Leeds Rhinos 18
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two late tries from Danny McGuire boosted Leeds' hopes of retaining their Super League title as they clung on to the fourth play-off place at the expense of 12-man Hull.

The home team led until 10 minutes from time, despite playing 70 minutes a man short following Lee Radford's sending-off, but McGuire's rescue act means that it will be Leeds who go to Wigan next Sunday in the play-offs. Hull, for all the courage and determination they showed here, will have to negotiate the sudden-death minefield outside the top four.

With Sean Long and Richard Horne playing alongside each other for only the fifth time this season, Hull had better attacking options than usual. But Radford, the man Long replaced as captain, was dismissed for swinging punches at Ryan Bailey after making a tackle on the Leeds prop.

He left the referee, Ian Smith, with little choice and Hull coach Richard Agar believed the sending-off cost his side the game. "A sin-binning would have defused the situation, but he's made a decision which has ultimately affected the outcome of the game," he said.

Yet Hull took the lead after 22 minutes, with a move begun by Kirk Yeaman smuggling the ball out of an uncompleted tackle and ending with Tom Briscoe's exquisite try. Long helped to set up the second Hull try but it was Craig Fitzgibbon's superb offload which released Danny Washbrook. Danny Tickle's second goal gave the 12 men a 12-point lead.

Leeds began to show signs of shaking off their Wembley hangover after the break. Aided by a couple of penalties, they broke down Hull's defence when Rob Burrow's long pass released Scott Donald. Kevin Sinfield slotted the conversion and the Rhinos could have been level if Lee Smith had not failed to ground the ball.

Hull edged further ahead from Fitzgibbon's kick after Leeds were penalised for dissent. Burrow's break then put Hull on the back foot and although he was caught by Reece Lyne, McGuire wriggled over for his first. Hull threatened an immediate reply, but Tickle was intercepted by Donald before McGuire found a gap again to put Leeds ahead in the 70th minute, albeit with a hint of obstruction.

The Leeds coach, Brian McClennan, complained about the fan who came on to the field and tried to tackle Donald near the end. "The security firm have got to answer some serious questions," he said.

Crusaders took the last play-off place in their first Super League season with a 30-24 win against Hull KR, edging out Castleford who lost 40-30 at St Helens.

Hull C Hall; Briscoe, Berrigan, Yeaman, Lyne; Horne, Long; Radford, Houghton, O'Meley, Manu, Tickle, Fitzgibbon. Substitutes used Moa, Washbrook, Cusack, Turner.

Leeds Webb; R Hall, Delaney, Smith, Donald; McGuire, Burrow; Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Ablett, Senior, Sinfield. Substitutes used Diskin, Eastwood, Kirke, Lauitiiti.

Referee I Smith (Oldham).