Leeds Rhinos 66-12 Toronto Wolfpack: Luke Gale helps blow away Canadian side to send hosts top of Super League
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 06/03/20 6:18am
Luke Gale marked his 300th career appearance with two tries to help send Leeds Rhinos top of Super League in a 66-12 rout of visitors Toronto Wolfpack on Thursday evening.
Robert Lui's first-half double, plus one for half-back partner Gale and further scores from Brad Dwyer, Richie Myler and Ash Handley - all converted by Rhyse Martin - saw the Rhinos ahead 36-6 at half-time at Headingley.
Loan signing Jack Wells gave Toronto a glimmer of hope after the break, but Gale's second and further converted tries from Cameron Smith, Mikolaj Oledzki, Adam Cuthbertson and Konrad Hurrell wrapped up a fourth-straight win for the home side.
That result means the Rhinos are on their best run since 2017 when now-Toronto head coach Brian McDermott led them to their fourth Grand Final triumph under his stewardship.
This was a second defeat of the season at Headingley for the Wolfpack too following their loss to Castleford Tigers on the opening weekend of the season and a chastening experience for McDermott, whose under-manned side are doing it tough in the top flight.
It was routine for the Rhinos from the moment hooker Dwyer forced his way through the attempted tackle of props Gadwin Springer and Adam Sidlow for a soft try after only three minutes.
The Wolfpack attacked brightly and thought they had scored through left winger Matty Russell, but slow-motion replays indicated he had been taken into touch by a flying Harry Newman.
Leeds immediately worked their way up field and Myler, once more revelling in his makeshift full-back role, finished off a sparkling move from deep inside his own half in which Gale handled twice.
It took a kick for Toronto to finally breach the Leeds defence, with centre Hakim Miloudi palming the ball back from Tony Gigot for scrum-half Josh McCrone to touch down, and Gareth O'Brien added the conversion.
Normal service was quickly resumed when Gale started and finished another flowing move midway through the first half and Lui then got in on the act.
The former Salford Red Devils playmaker jinked past a wrong-footed Jon Wilkin for one try and then got on the end of Newman's break to grab another.
The Rhinos were full of invention and they got the bounce of the ball on the stroke of half-time when Newman regathered the ball from Martin's delicate kick through the Toronto defence and left-winger Ash Handley popped up on the right to finish off with his side's sixth try of the half.
Toronto interchange man Wells, playing his second game on loan from Wigan Warriors, managed to punch a hole in the Leeds defence for Toronto's second try 11 minutes into the second half, but it was little more than a consolation.
Leeds back-row Smith gratefully accepted a pass out of the tackle from Cuthbertson to force his way over and fellow prop Oledzki bundled Sonny Bill Williams out of the way on his unstoppable run to the line.
The visitors had managed to keep centre Hurrell relatively quiet for most of the night, but the Tonga international broke clear after 63 minutes to get Gale away for his second try and rounded off the scoring in the last minute after another blockbusting run.
Toronto were down to 12 men by then with McCrone in the sin bin for preventing a quick play-the-ball by holding down Myler in the tackle, which summed up an unhappy night for the visitors.