New Zealand battle past Leeds at Headingley
Last Updated: 23/10/15 11:04pm
New Zealand beat an under-strength Leeds 34-16 in a superb match played in front of a near-capacity crowd at Headingley.
A late scoring burst spared New Zealand's blushes as they surged to a comfortable win in the closing stages of the match.
Full-back Roger Tuivasa-Sheck scored two tries in the last 15 minutes as the Kiwis finished strongly against the Super League champions in their warm-up for the Test series against England.
Centre Joel Moon - one of nine members of Leeds' Grand Final-winning team earlier in the month - scored the second of his two tries to put the home side back in front as the game went into the last 20 minutes, but the tourists ran in four tries in the fourth quarter to run out comfortable winners.
Leeds used the occasion to celebrate the careers of departing stalwarts Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai and they produced a performance worthy of the side's legends.
Leuluai, the only one of the three to play in the game, was denied an try due to a forward pass, but the Rhinos were rewarded for their running rugby with the opening try through Moon, who produced a great pick-up from Dannny McGuire's grubber kick to open his side's account.
The Kiwis looked rusty throughout the opening quarter, but they gradually grew into the match, and struck with two tries in a five-minute spell to take a lead into half-time, with Jason Nightingale and centre Jordan Kahu producing the scores for the visitors.
Leeds were forced to defend relentlessly in the opening exchanges of the second half, but when their opportunity arrived, they took it. Tui Lolohea missed a tackle on Lilley and Lilley sent Moon over for his second try in the 54th minute.
Lilley stepped up to add the conversion and gave his side the lead over their international visitors.
However, the lead changed hands for a third time on the hour, when prop Jesse Bromwich charged over thanks to Kodi Nikorima's flat pass, and moments later centre Dean Whare finished off a break by Tuivasa-Sheck for the tourists' fourth try.
There was no way back for Leeds when Tuivasa-Sheck went over for a fifth try on 65 minutes, although guest player Ali Lauitiiti swooped on a handling error by Shaun Kenny-Dowall to get Tom Briscoe over for Leeds' third try of the night, before Nikorima and Tuivasa-Sheck added late tries for the visitors to cap off a more comfortable win than had looked possible 20 minutes before.