Leeds 28-24 Hull KR: Rhinos fend off visitors to secure vital victory
Last Updated: 28/04/19 6:44pm
Leeds Rhinos fended off a significant second-half fightback from Hull KR to secure a 28-24 victory at Headingley.
The victory means that the Rhinos leapfrog the Robins on the ladder moving into 10th and duly handed Tim Sheens' side their sixth loss in seven matches.
Hull KR fought back bravely from a 22-0 half-time deficit but could not complete a miracle turnaround.
Leeds welcomed Jack Walker back in their side, with Tui Lolohea moving to stand-off. The visitors were without Tommy Lee and Mitch Garbutt through injury, with Shaun Lunt starting at hooker and new loan signing Antoni Maria making his debut off the bench.
The Rhinos got off to a perfect start with a try just two minutes in, as Brad Dwyer made a break from dummy half and set up Handley for his first score, which Sutcliffe converted.
The Robins put more pressure on the home team's line but Leeds' defence was resolute.
The Rhinos extended their lead in the 19th minute after George Lawler was penalised for a high tackle on Smith. Sutcliffe stepped up to nail his second kick of the game.
A series of penalties gave Leeds great field position and they pounced when Smith fed Handley with an excellent cut-out pass.
At 12-0 after 23 minutes the Rhinos were cruising and it almost got better for the home side five minutes later but Trent Merrin lost control of the ball over the line as he went to ground it.
Soon after Lolohea bamboozled the Hull KR defence before finding Tom Briscoe with a timely cut-out pass - and he scored in the corner. Sutcliffe failed to add the extras but it mattered little.
Straight from the kick-off and right before half-time, Matt Parcell burned the markers at dummy half and Walker was in support for the try - and Sutcliffe's conversion gave Leeds a dominant 22-0 lead at half-time.
It continued to get worse for Hull KR in the second half as only five minutes in Parcell dived over, showing a neat turn of pace to cross after taking Adam Cuthbertson's offload.
The Robins finally hit back soon after. Weller Hauraki's offload to Ben Crooks was knocked down but Crooks picked it up to get the visitors on the board. Ryan Shaw added the extras to make it 28-6.
Hull KR gave themselves a chance when Crooks scored again. Josh Drinkwater's kick was batted down and the centre was on hand for the try.
Shaw converted to cut the Rhinos' lead back to 28-12 with 14 minutes left, and Kane Linnett and Hauraki then touched down to make it a nervous ending for Leeds.
However, the visitors could not manage another score with a minute left and Leeds held on for their fourth victory of the season.