Wakefield stun Rhinos
A second-half hat-trick of tries from England winger Ryan Hall was not enough to prevent Challenge Cup finalists Leeds crashing to a 38-18 defeat at Wakefield in the Stobart Super League on Monday night.
- Related Content
Hall pounced on three kicks from captain Kevin Sinfield to help the defending champions stage a second-half rally but a slipshod first-half performance had left them with too much to do.
Wakefield, who had already lost twice to their arch-rivals this season, thoroughly deserved to make it third-time lucky after outscoring their visitors by seven tries to four.
The result sent the Rhinos crashing to their first defeat in seven matches.
Leeds gave a debut to Germany international Jimmy Keinhorst after coach Brian McDermott opted not to risk Brett Delaney's thumb injury and welcomed Brent Webb back from a six-match absence with a knee injury.
However, Webb was put on report after only two minutes for a high tackle on Wakefield captain Danny Kirmond and was taken off before half-time after struggling to come to terms with the pace of the game.
The Rhinos clearly missed the creative skill of the suspended Danny McGuire while Wakefield shrugged off the absence of former Leeds favourite Ali Lauitiiti and Paul Aiton, two of their most influential performers this season, to outplay the champions.
Hooker Andy Ellis had the first of two tries disallowed before prop Andy Raleigh opened the scoring, stretching out of a two-man tackle to plant the ball on the line.
Webb had a try disallowed by video referee Ben Thaler for an obstruction but Leeds got their first score on 13 minutes when teenager Stevie Ward intercepted a Tim Smith pass 20 metres from his own line and found centre Kallum Watkins in space.
However, the champions were strangely out of sorts and Wakefield punished their carelessness with two tries in a four-minute spell to establish a stranglehold on the game.
Stand-off Paul Sykes, Wakefield's man of the match, took Tim Smith's pass to finish off a sustained spell of pressure on the Leeds line and, after Sinfield had put the restart straight over the dead-ball line, Sykes combined with Ellis and Tim Smith to get Kirmond over.
Sykes kicked all three conversions to make it 18-4 and the Wildcats would have extended their lead had Sykes been able to take the final pass after substitute Paul Johnson split the visitors' defence with a barnstorming run.
Hall gave Leeds hope early in the second half when he struck twice in three minutes, collecting Sinfield's high kicks each time to score tries.
Sinfield's first successful conversion cut the deficit to four points and hooker Shaun Lunt almost levelled the scores when he burrowed his way to the line but lost the ball attempting to ground it.
The Wildcats, who had prop forward Oliver Wilkes placed on report for a high tackle on Rob Burrow, were clearly rocking at that stage but they quickly regrouped and made sure of the win with two tries in a decisive three-minute spell.
Front rower Kyle Amor, one of four ex-Leeds men in the Wakefield ranks, was brought down short of the line following Sykes' break but the Leeds defence could not re-align in time to prevent loose forward Danny Washbrook going over wide out.
Amor and Raleigh then produced superb offloads to create the space for replacement hooker Kyle Wood to jink his way over for a fifth try to make it 28-14.
Hall latched onto Sinfield's grubber kick to complete his hat-trick on 70 minutes but Wakefield finished with a flourish.
Centre Dean Collis won the race to Tim Smith's kick and Peter Fox went over at the corner in the last minute to complete the scoring.