RUGBY LEAGUE: Leeds rout piles on woe for Halifax

Leeds Rhinos 70 Halifax Blue Sox 22
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The Independent Online
LEEDS DEEPENED the gloom surrounding Halifax with a performance that ruthlessly exploited their uncertainties on and off the field last night. Amid rumours of a worsening financial crisis, Halifax were in no state to withstand the pressure put on them at Headingley by opponents who sensed their weakness.

The Halifax coach, John Pendlebury, said afterwards that he was as unsure about the future as anyone. "The directors have gone away to put their heads together and I am waiting to see what they come up with," he said.

There are suggestions that some at the club are inclined to accept a hint from Super League that they would be better to drop down a level, however unpalatable that might be. This display will not make that suggestion go away.

The demolition began early, when Brad Godden forced his way over. Andy Hay's jinking run then set up Terry Newton and the sheer strength of Adrian Morley took over for the third Leeds try.

Morley also provided the extravagant back-flipped pass for Daryl Powell to go in and Powell then produced the kick that bounced perfectly for Anthony Farrell to touch down.

Before half-time, the Leeds teenager Kevin Sinfield threw out a long pass for Leroy Rivett to score his first try since his four at Wembley.

Everyone was queuing up by now and with Iestyn Harris landing all six conversions, Leeds were beyond recall; Halifax's only gesture of defiance amounted to a close-range try from the scrum-half Gavin Clinch to briefly interrupt the mayhem.

Halifax at least drew first blood in the second half when Gary Mercer put Jamie Bloem over and Chris Chester released Andy Hobson for another quick try. That showed commendable spirit, but any modest progress towards chipping away at the lead was halted abruptly when Morley stormed through once more and provided Ryan Sheridan with the scoring pass.

Tries from Paul Sterling, Harris, who also finished with a Super League record-equalling 11 goals, man of the match Morley, Rivett and Francis Cummins completed the biggest scoreline of the season and one that takes Leeds into the top five.

The future looks far less rosy for Halifax for whom the former Rhinos full-back, Damian Gibson, scored in the last minute and Clinch kicked his third goal.

Leeds Rhinos: Harris; Rivett, Golden, Godden, Cummins; Powell, Sheridan; Fleary, Newton, McDermott, Morley, Hay, Sinfield. Substitutes used: St Hilaire, Jackson, Sterling, Farrell.

Halifax Blue Sox: Gibson; Pinkney, Bouveng, Craig, Cardiss; Chester, Clinch; Broadbent, Rowley, Marshall, Mercer, Bloem, Moana. Substitutes used: Clark, Hobson, Seal, Randall.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).