Hmm. I can’t say that I thought the scoreboard was indicative of the competitiveness displayed in this game, but it did serve as a warning to the rest of Super League. Leeds were clearly the better side here, with Jamie Peacock leading the way in a dominating forward display, but they didn’t add the sheen to the score until the final quarter of the game. By that time the Robins were clearly knackered, having played most of the game a man down as Chev Walker suffered one of the nastier injuries I’ve seen at a rugby game (it seemed to be a compound leg fracture, and I was hoping that what I saw was merely some part of his shin pad and not bone). In the end, it proved all too much for KR.
Michael Dobson and Paul Cooke were ineffectual tonight. They helped control the play to some extent but they lacked any real cutting edge (even their try relied on being gifted field position). Leeds by contrast were able to bomb a few chances and still rack up 44 points (even if over half of them came late in the game). The more I watch Leeds, the more I notice how crucial Danny McGuire is to their game – at one point, I thought his game could’ve been politely described as ‘mediocre’, but then I realised the first two tries came off his kicks, and he also put Ali Lauitiiti in for a try as well. I understand why people call him a glorified support-player and he’s one of the most frustrating players to watch, but I do now feel people underestimate his play-making ability and especially his kicking game (in attack, at least).
However the main men for Leeds were Peacock (destructive all night) and Lauitiiti, whose handling skills are a delight to watch, and it was fantastic seeing both of them score tries. The backs obviously benefited from this combination of graft and flash going on in the forwards, as a worn-down Hull side wilted in the final quarter allowing Ryan Hall to add to his ever-growing try collection and Keith Senior to finish off the game by powering away from a knackered collection of Red and White players.
One word to describe Leeds: ominous. They went through a wobbly patch in the first half, but once they came out of that they started to steamroll ahead. Now they get a week’s break to give their players some rest and get the ‘club call’, choosing their semi-final opponents. It wouldn’t surprise me if they picked KR again, but that depends on the Robins winning next week. They should get Shaun Briscoe and Clint Newton back next week, which will be crucial because they need all the help they can get to get out of this minor slump.