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Rhinos too tough for Bulls
Bradford's first defeat since going into administration
Leeds secured a sixth successive win with a 34-16 derby victory over troubled neighbours Bradford at Headingley.
But despite the Bulls' off-field problems, the Rhinos needed to be at their best to see off a spirited Bradford side in front of an 18,520 crowd.
It was the Bulls' first defeat since going into administration as they missed the chance to take over fifth spot in Stobart Super League from their hosts.
Both sides demonstrated a willingness to attack from deep inside their own half and Bradford struck first with a sparkling 60-metre move.
It was sparked by hooker Heath L'Estrange, with danger man Brett Kearney taking his pass to break clear while Michael Platt was in support to send second rower Elliott Whitehead over for a glorious try.
Gale's goal made it 6-0 but Leeds drew level midway through the first half following a break by teenager Stevie Ward, who had pulled out of the England Academy tour to Australia to continue his apprenticeship at Headingley.
Danny McGuire took Ward's pass only to be hauled down short of the line by winger Karl Pryce but quick passing from Rob Burrow, Kevin Sinfield and Zak Hardaker in the next play got centre Kallum Watkins over the line for the first of his two tries.
That followed Jarrod Sammut's failure to find touch with a penalty and the Australian half-back was denied a try when Pryce's final pass to him was ruled forward.
Already without Carl Ablett through injury, Leeds lost his centre replacement Brett Delaney with a thumb problem six minutes before half-time which necessitated a re-shuffle, but Bradford experienced an even bigger blow when full-back Kearney failed to re-appear for the second half after taking a heavy knock beforethe break.
The Bulls continued to play with a carefree spirit but they were undone by a purple patch from the Rhinos early in the second half.
Watkins took Hardaker's defence-splitting pass to round Sammut for his second try and, after the makeshift full-back had collided with Pryce in trying to collect Hardaker's high kick, swooped on the loose ball to get Shaun Lunt over for his 100th career try.
Sinfield added both conversions to give his side an 18-6 lead but he was sin-binned on 67 minutes for tackling a Bradford player off the ball.
The 12-man Rhinos had to defend desperately to keep their 12-point lead intact, with Jamie Langley and Pryce both going within inches of the line before prop Manase Manuokafoa got over without being able to ground the ball.
Leeds then showed their champion qualities to score on the counter-punch, Danny McGuire getting prop Kylie Leuluai through a hole in the Bradford defence for Hardaker to finish off.
Hardaker kicked the goal in the absence of Sinfield while Bradford gained some reward for their perseverance when second rower Olivier Elima and Pryce scored late consolation tries.
The Rhinos had the final say, however, when McGuire and Sinfield both pounced on handling errors to add further tries and Sinfield took his goal tally to four from five attempts.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington Wolves vs Salford Red Devils|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
|First Utility Super League|
|Saturday 11th October|
|St Helens 14 - 6 Wigan|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Wigan 16 - 12 Warrington|
|Thursday 2nd October|
|St Helens 30 - 12 Catalans Dragons|
|Friday 26th September|
|Huddersfield 16 - 18 Catalans Dragons|
|Thursday 25th September|
|Castleford 14 - 30 Warrington|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Leeds 20 - 24 Catalans Dragons|
|Warrington 22 - 19 Widnes|
|Friday 19th September|
|St Helens 41 - 0 Castleford|
|Thursday 18th September|
|Wigan 57 - 4 Huddersfield|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Wakefield 18 - 42 Hull K R|
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