Harlequins RL produced two starkly contrasting performances either side of the half-time break yesterday as they fell to a rampant Leeds Rhinos sides in the baking heat of The Stoop.
Quins started brightly with a Paul Sykes try after ten minutes, only to see the lead cancelled by Jamie Thackray’s trampling run ten minutes later. Consistent pressure from the home side saw the Rhinos give away a string of penalties which ultimately resulted in the sin binning of fullback Brent Webb on twenty-five minutes for three high tackles in less than ten minutes. The card came too late for many who felt that Webb deserved a full red for the first and worst of the three high shots which typified the niggling performance of the Rhino’s in the opening period.
With Leeds down a man Quins quickly capitalised on the advantage with Scott Hill, providing one of his better performances this season, squeezing over for a try, closely followed by Mark McLinden whose weaving run finished off a good passage of open play. Two conversions from Sykes took the home side into the break with a well deserved 16 – 6 lead.
It was after the break that things started to go wrong for Quins, a series of unforced errors and poor ball control placed them under unnecessary pressure, whilst Leeds cleaned up their own act. Eight minutes into the second half Webb took the chance to redeem himself with the try that sparked the visitors’ revival, his effort closely followed by one from Jordan Tansey to put the Rhinos back in front. Quins fans new it wasn’t to be their afternoon when referee Phil Bentham was conned into giving a penalty for a non-existent ball steal on fifty-five minutes, with Kevin Sinfield touching down from the resulting position.
From that point onwards the game was a one sided affair, characterized by Leeds capacity to strike from deep. The Quins had no answer to the Rhinos speed and the quality of their support play, Gareth Ellis, Scott Donald, and Jamie Peacock all adding tries. A seventy-fifth minute try from Danny Orr, briefly interrupted the flow of traffic, but that’s all it was as Danny McGuire replied immediately followed by a second try from Webb in the final minute.
Ultimately the game highlighted the difference in depth between the two sides, in particular a Leeds pack featuring no less than five full Great Britain internationals up against a Quins forward line down to just two regular prop forwards and a winger filling in at second-row. However, coach Brian McDermott will have identified elements of the performance in both halves for attention before next Sunday’s away game at Wakefield.
Harlequins RL: (16) 20
Tries: Sykes, Hill, McLinden, Orr
Goals: Sykes 2
Leeds: (6) 54
Tries: Thackray, Webb 2, Tansey, Ellis, Sinfield, Donald, Peacock, McGuire
Goals: Sinfield 7, Tansey 2