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Super League: Skipper Kevin Sinfield helps Leeds see off Wakefield on his comeback
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Kevin Sinfield marked his comeback with a crucial drop goal as Leeds edged out neighbours Wakefield 31-24 at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
Fit-again skipper Sinfield slotted over a one-pointer in the 65th minute before the Rhinos finally saw off their hosts with late tries from Carl Ablett and Rob Burrow, the second of them coming on the last play.
The defeat was tough on the Wildcats, as they miss out on the chance to move into the play-off places. They have now lost back-to-back fixtures to the reigning Super League champions by a total margin of nine points.
They made light of the absence of skipper Danny Kirmond, ruled out before kick-off through injury, to take the lead after 11 minutes when Paul Aiton scooped up a loose ball and darted over.
Lee Smith, playing against his old employers, added the conversion to make it 6-0 but missed a chance to extend the lead when he was wide with a penalty.
Leeds saw a try for Ablett chalked off before the Wakefield defence was finally breached seven minutes before half-time when winger James Duckworth took a long pass from fellow teenager Liam Sutcliffe to mark his debut with a try.
Sinfield added the extras but the Rhinos found themselves under pressure after the break and Ali Lauitiiti - another home player going up against his old club - set up hooker Aiton's second score of the evening.
However, just as Brian McDermott's side seemed to be wobbling, Ben Jones-Bishop came up with a moment of magic to drag them level again.
The full-back gathered Tim Smith's grubber kick just five metres short of his own line and sprinted virtually the full length of the field for a glorious try that Sinfield also converted.
The England captain - back from a thumb injury after six weeks on the sidelines - nudged the visitors ahead with his drop goal and then knocked over a touchline kick when Joel Moon touched down out wide.
Yet Wakefield rallied with two tries in the space of three minutes, firstly Justin Poore finishing off Tim Smith's pass before Frankie Mariano followed his fellow forward over the line.
Lee Smith took his tally to four goals from four attempts to make it 25-19, but a see-saw contest moved back in Leeds' favour when Sinfield's grubber kick bounced awkwardly in the in-goal area and Ablett dived on the ball.
Sinfield restore his side's one-point advantage with the goal and Leeds made sure of the two points when Burrow forced his way over from dummy half as the final hooter sounded.
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||21||18|
|10||Salford Red Devils||21||17|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||21||2|
|Thursday 24th July|
|20:00||Hull vs Castleford|
|Friday 25th July|
|20:00||Salford vs Leeds|
|20:00||St Helens vs Widnes|
|Saturday 26th July|
|15:00||London Broncos vs Hull K R|
|Sunday 27th July|
|15:00||Bradford vs Wigan|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Catalan Dragons|
|15:00||Warrington vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 31st July|
|20:00||Wigan vs Salford|
|Friday 1st August|
|19:00||Catalan Dragons vs Warrington|
|20:00||Hull vs St Helens|
|Sunday 20th July|
|Hull K R 18 - 38 Salford|
|Huddersfield 52 - 26 Bradford|
|Saturday 19th July|
|Catalan Dragons 40 - 6 Wakefield|
|London Broncos 16 - 58 St Helens|
|Friday 18th July|
|Wigan 56 - 10 Hull|
|Widnes 28 - 14 Warrington|
|Thursday 17th July|
|Leeds 24 - 24 Castleford|
|Sunday 13th July|
|Warrington 72 - 12 London Broncos|
|Saturday 12th July|
|Catalan Dragons 16 - 37 Wigan|
|Salford 35 - 22 Hull|
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