Leeds coach Tony Smith believes his side's battling win over Hull on Friday night has taught lessons that will come in handy in the push for the title. The Tetley's Super League leaders were twice forced to come from behind at Headingley before emerging with a hard-fought 28-24 win over their third-placed Yorkshire rivals.
Victory took the Rhinos five points clear at the top but it was never convincing, and Smith hopes the messages will have been taken on board. Smith said: "We have not had to come from behind too many times this year, and there may have been questions asked about whether we could. I'm glad we found a way to do it. It may not have been pretty but the team spirit here is fantastic."
After a scoreless opening quarter, Leeds drew first blood with tries from Ali Lauitiiti and Keith Senior. Hull pulled six points back when Richard Horne was awarded a penalty try after being impeded by Richie Mathers, then Nick Scruton, who is on loan from the Rhinos, put them ahead before the break. Chev Walker got Leeds back in front but Hull responded through Shaun Briscoe and could have had another when Shayne McMenemy touched down, but referee Steve Ganson ruled a knock-on after Briscoe accidentally headed forward.
It took two tries in as many minutes for Leeds to win. Lauitiiti took his tally to five tries in five games before Jamie Jones-Buchanan also crossed. Colin Best claimed a late Hull consolation.
Smith added: "It was a scrappy old affair with some entertainment thrown in. We made it tough for ourselves but I was entertained by Hull. They moved the ball around a lot and asked questions of our defence. They're a good side and will go a lot further."
Hull, who are currently in the charge of assistant coach John Kear whilst Shaun McRae visits his ill father in Australia, must now pick themselves up for Tuesday's clash with Wigan. The Warriors were also given a tough examination but held off a Wakefield fightback to extend their winning sequence to four with a 28-22 success.
It was a determined display from Wakefield, but their coach, Shane McNally, said: "We gave them a 20-point start, and you can't afford to do that against any side."
Wigan's caretaker coach, Denis Betts, said: "I thought we were sensational in the first half and it was a pleasure to watch. But at times in the second half I thought, 'Here we go again'. But we stuck at it and I'm just happy we got the win."Reuse content