RUGBY LEAGUE; Powell turns on the power

Leeds Rhinos 45 Bradford Bulls 16
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THE BIGGEST crowd in the four seasons of Super League witnessed a commanding display from Leeds' veteran stand-off, Daryl Powell, who gave a superlative exhibition in the first 40 minutes at Headingley last night and set them on their way to their second outstanding win in a week.

"He was really good against Wigan and he was even better tonight," said the Leeds coach, Graham Murray. "Daryl holds us together."

More than that, he took Bradford apart after the visitors had grabbed the lead with a try within two minutes when Paul Deacon's kick bounced perfectly for Henry Paul. Bradford continued to have a generous slice of the game territorially, but the rest of the half was all about the taking of chances and Leeds - and Powell in particular - were masterful.

First, he opened out play after one of Adrian Morley's many powerful drives for Iestyn Harris to send Andy Hay over for the first of his three tries. Harris could not kick the conversion, but he and Steve McNamara each added a penalty to keep the scores briefly in tandem.

Yet Powell was not to be denied. His run from dummy-half and slipped pass to Marc Glanville created another try and he then did superbly to claim an awkward ball from Lee Jackson and serve it up expertly for Morley to crash over. As Leeds applied the pressure from a scrum, it was Powell, inevitably, whose drop goal took the half-time lead to 13 points.

Soon after the break, Paul hung on too long after a defence-splitting run and Leeds went to the other end to score via Harris's long pass to Hay. Their next try was extraordinary, with a kick from the unlikely boot of Anthony Farrell and an acrobatic piece of work by Marvin Golden to keep the ball in play for Leroy Rivett to score.

Paul's second try had a virtuosity of its own, but it had been reduced to irrelevance. Even after Powell had gone off to a standing ovation and Jackson gifted a try to David Boyle with a loose pass, Leeds remained serene in the knowledge that wins over Wigan and Bradford had put them back in contention for the top spot.

Hay completed his hat-trick from long range and Paul Sterling touched down in the corner before Harris's eighth goal wrapped up the match for Leeds.

Leeds Rhinos: St Hilaire; Rivett, Golden, Cummins, Sterling; Powell, Harris; Barrie McDermott, Newton, Farrell, Morley, Hay, Glanville. Substitutes used: Mathiou, Jackson, Sinfield.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Withers, McAvoy, Naylor, Pryce; H Paul, Deacon; Brian McDermott, Lowes, Anderson, Forshaw, Boyle, McNamara. Substitutes used: Dwyer, Fielden, Peacock, Jowitt.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).