Rhinos rocked by Widnes

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Published: Sunday 10th May 2015 by The News Editor

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Leeds missed the chance to move four points clear of nearest rivals Wigan at the top of the First Utility Super League after slumping to a shock 38-24 defeat against Widnes.

The Rhinos made it three games without a win as Widnes ran in seven tries to notch their first win over Leeds in 12 attempts stretching back to 2003.

Leeds fought back from 28-14 down early in the second half to cut the gap to four points, before Chris Dean went over for a vital try eight minutes from the end, from which Jack Owens booted his fifth conversion.

Then Aaron Heremaia grabbed the final try to give Widnes a famous victory, with skipper Kevin Brown landing the man-of-the-match award.

Widnes had seven different try-scorers as they enjoyed a fine afternoon.

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield, dropped for last week’s draw against Huddersfield, was again left out, with veteran prop Kylie Leuluai still missing alongside Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Hall and Tom Briscoe.

Patrick Ah Van and Gil Dudson returned for Widnes who were without Macgraff Leuluai, Danny Tickle, Cameron Phelps, Eamon O’Carroll, Hep Cahill and Paddy Flynn.

Widnes made a storming start with a surging midfield break by Lloyd White. Rhinos duo Brad Singleton and Joel Moon were placed on report for a tackle on Alex Gerrard.

It was no surprise when the Vikings took the lead as Chris Clarkson, on a season-long loan from Leeds, took Kevin Brown’s pass to storm over but Owens missed the straightforward conversion.

Leeds levelled after eight minutes when Rhys Hanbury spilled Danny McGuire’s high kick and Zak Hardaker and McGuire combined for Stevie Ward to cross, but Liam Sutcliffe was also off target with the goal attempt.

The Rhinos went ahead in the 16th minute when McGuire’s kick bounced awkwardly for the defence and Moon pounced to cross, with Sutcliffe’s goal making it 10-4, although it looked like Hardaker had knocked on in the build-up.

Ash Handley did cross the line but his try was disallowed, with Leeds looking the more dominant side after their shaky start.

But then Widnes finally clicked into gear. Hanbury sent Owens away and the winger sent Stefan Marsh surging over with a superb pass as he was tackled by Handley.

Owens made amends for his earlier miss by booting the touchline conversion to make it 10-10.

Leeds had a let-off when Phil Joseph dropped the ball near the line. The Rhinos were then caught napping when waiting for referee Phil Bentham’s whistle after a clear high tackle by Paul Aiton on Joe Mellor.

But then Mellor hared away on a 40-metre run with Bentham playing advantage.

Owens converted to make it 16-10 before Leeds were awarded their first penalty just before the break.

The Rhinos took advantage and Jimmy Keinhorst sent Kallum Watkins over in the corner to cut the gap to 16-14.

Watkins maintained his impressive record against Widnes, scoring for his fifth match in a row in the fixture.

Widnes went further ahead early in the second half with Danny Galea storming over after McGuire was penalised for offside following an interception.

Owens goaled to make it 22-14.with the rampant Vikings adding a fifth try when Manase Manuokafoa spun over from close range after another Widnes penalty.

Owens’ fourth goal stretched the advantage to 28-14 but Leeds clawed their way back into the contest when Watkins pounced for his second try from Sutcliffe’s precision grubber kick.

The home side’s nerves were jangling when Jimmy Keinhorst took McGuire’s pass for his first try of the season on the hour with Sutcliffe’s goal closing the deficit to four points.

Hardaker made a try-saving tackle on Dean after Watkins spilled a pass but then Dean forced his way over eight minutes from time for a crucial effort.

Owens added the conversion to make it 34-24.

Heremaia notched a seventh try two minutes from time to add to Leeds woes.

Published: Sunday 10th May 2015 by The News Editor

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