Rugby League: Holroyd makes the difference

Leeds 36 London 8
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The Independent Online
A profoundly influential contribution from their second-half substitute, Graham Holroyd, kept Leeds' hopes of being runners-up in the Stones Super League very much alive.

Victory for London would have made second place in the table a virtual certainty for them; defeat, made all the more damaging by the sending- off of Shaun Edwards two minutes from time, leaves them just one point ahead of Leeds, who were by far the more convincing outfit at Headingley last night.

Although scores were level early in the second half, the home side, with the youthful back-row of Andy Hay, Adrian Morley, and Terry Newton thriving as a unit, had looked the likelier proposition.

Within minutes of Holroyd coming on to the field that suspicion hardened into proven fact. It was his pass, cleverly missing out Richie Blackmore, that put Paul Sterling in for the first of his two tries and then, after a quick tap penalty, he supplied the ball for Blackmore to go over.

Another Holroyd long pass released Hay - who had already scored an equally good try, his first for the club, in the first half - and Iestyn Harris' pass to Sterling completed a match-winning sequence of four tries in 12 minutes.

There was still time for Holroyd's weaving run to set up Harris as Leeds extracted full revenge for their heavy defeat at The Stoop. London's discomfort was completed when Edwards was dismissed for a wild challenge on Jamie Mathiou.

It takes nothing away from Leeds to say that, by their recent standards, this was a thoroughly off-key performance from London. Even in the first half, they gave the impression of clinging on to the coat tails of the game rather than having a full share of it.

They did lead briefly when Scott Roskell timed his run perfectly to catch a precise cross kick from Edwards, but Hay's first try brought Leeds level and they rarely looked back thereafter.

The battle for second place, and the run of home games it should theoretically give in to the Premiership final, is the issue to be resolved at the top of the table now that Bradford have completed the formality of the title. London still have one point advantage and a better points difference, but last night suggested that the momentum is with Leeds.

Leeds: Gibson; Sterling, Hassan, Blackmore, Golden; Harris, Brown; Masella, Collins, Mathiou, Morley, Hay, Newton. Substitutes used: Cummins, Farrell, Holroyd, Field.

London: Mardon; Roskell, Barwick, Krause, Martin; White, Edwards; Mestrov, Matterson, Seaby, Gill, Bawden, Beazley. Substitutes used: Salter, Hamilton, Duncan, Howard.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).