Rugby League: Harris lifts Leeds back to top

Leeds 35 Halifax 18
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LEEDS went back to the top of Super League and embarked on a new winning run to follow the one that ended last week.

That surprise defeat at Hull hung over them for much of the first half last night, but once the skills of Iestyn Harris took them into the lead before half-time they were always in command and it was third-placed Halifax's turn to surrender a successful run which had brought them five straight victories.

It was a mixed first half for Kelvin Skerrett and Paul Sterling, the scorers of their side's first tries. They were the originators of the incident that saw both teams reduced to 12 men.

Skerrett pounced on Sterling's mistake, from Gavin Clinch's high kick, to give Halifax the lead, one improved by Martin Pearson's 45-yard penalty. Sterling had his revenge when he was the last man in a move started by Graham Holroyd and completed by Richie Blackmore's deft pass.

An always tense game then erupted, Skerrett seizing Sterling by the throat with one fist and laying into him with the other. Most players were involved before order could be restored, but Skerrett and Leeds' second-row, Anthony Farrell were sent off.

Harris' penalty levelled the scores and in first-half injury-time he took Holroyd's pass and cut through to score in the corner, adding the goal.

Harris, who survived a tricky moment in the first half when a ball was knocked from his grasp in the in-goal area only for the resulting touchdown to be disallowed, was the instigator of the try that took Leeds clear.

Andy Hay and Brad Godden handled well before Francis Cummins squeezed in at the corner, Harris adding a fine conversion and then a drop goal.

Cummins sneaked in again near the flag, this time after good work by Barrie McDermott, Holdroyd and Godden, Harris landed the goal via both crossbar and post.

Martin Moana went through some hesitant defence to score Halifax's second try, converted by Jamie Bloem but Blackmore served up an almost immediate reply for Marcus St Hilaire.

But for that score, Simon Baldwin's late converted try could have made it interesting, but Leeds had dominated the match when it mattered and Blackmore's flicked path to Sterling in the last minute restored a handsome margin.

Leeds: Harris; Sterling, Blackmore, Godden, Cummins; Kemp, Holroyd; Masella, Sheridan, Fleary, Hay, Farrell, Daryl Powell. Substitutes used: St Hilaire, McDermott, Golden, Mathiou.

Halifax: Pearson; Tuilagi, Bouveng, Gibson, Dio Powell; Chester, Clinch; Harrison, Rowley, Skerrett, Mercer, Clark, Moana. Substitutes used: Bloem, Bentley, Baldwin, Marshall.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).

l Bradford's James Lowes has had his two match ban for verbally abusing a referee halved on appeal.