Leeds 26 Wakefield 10: Rhinos stampede Wildcats in pre-season warm-up
Defending Super League champions Leeds warmed up for their title defence with an impressive victory over new-look Wakefield in their annual Boxing Day challenge match.
Fielding a mixture of seasoned professionals and promising youngsters in their first outing since their Grand Final triumph over St Helens in October, the Rhinos showed some encouraging touches in front of a 9,062 crowd at Headingley.
Acting captain Rob Burrow, centre Zak Hardaker and loose forward Chris Clarkson, who were all members of Leeds” Grand Final-winning team, were among the tryscorers.
Second rower Weller Hauraki, unlucky to miss out at Old Trafford, made his point with a man-of-the-match performance, while former Wakefield prop Richard Moore also caught the eye for the hosts on his debut.
Wakefield, with no fewer than 12 new faces, made the more impressive start and took the lead on 14 minutes when former Harlequins hooker Andy Ellis dummied his way over from acting half-back for the game”s first try.
Stand-off Isaac John added the conversion to make it 6-0 but the slow-starting Rhinos drew level midway through the first half when Clarkson celebrated his new five-year contract by winning the race to Paul McShane”s grubber kick over the line.
Full-back Lee Smith kicked the first of his two goals to level matters and the champions seized control of the match with two further tries in the last four minutes of the first half.
Lively hooker Liam Hood nipped in ahead of team-mate Stevie Ward to seize possession from Hardaker”s play-the-ball and also caught the Wakefield defence napping to snatch a try.
Centre Kallum Watkins then raced over from halfway after taking Hauraki”s pass and Smith”s second goal made it 16-6 at the break.
The introduction of scrum-half Kyle Wood and ex-Leeds prop Kyle Amor helped spark a second-half revival for the Wildcats, who pulled a try back through impressive Australian centre Dean Collis on 51 minutes.
However, Leeds made sure of the victory when Hauraki got Watkins into a gap and Burrow was in support to claim a deserved try, while Hardaker added a fifth just before the end after supporting a break by winger Jamel Chisholm and Burrow wrapped up the scoring with the conversion.