Leeds Rhinos’ coach Brian McDermott praised his hat-trick debutant Tom Briscoe for helping his side start the season with this win at Hull KR.
Briscoe’s treble in the second half took the game away from a Rovers side who struggled to trouble the Rhinos.
McDermott was more pleased with the work in other areas of Briscoe’s game than the three tries which he scored.
“When you bring someone in of Tom’s calibre at this level, you don’t expect him to finish those tries,” McDermott said. “But there is an expectation that he will do.
“The pleasing thing for me was the way he was involved in our sets coming away from our try line.
“He was hard to contain. He’s a strong fellow and a very robust winger with speed.
“He punches holes in the KR defence in the first half and we value that as highly as the tries.
“His strength is his strength.”
McDermott admits he did not know which way the game was going to go in the second half as the teams were level 6-6 at the break. But he was glad his side took their chances when they came their way.
“It was pleasing because it was a tough game for the first 40 minutes,” McDermott said.
“We were asked a lot of questions by Hull KR, who have a big set of forwards.
“At times we struggled to contain them and at half-time it was a bit scrappy but nothing had gone wrong.
“To come out of those tough performances and put points on was pleasing.
“It could have gone either way in the second half.
“It wasn’t because of the outside backs and the tries we scored, we toughed it out.
“The important thing is we got the win.”
Leeds extended their incredible opening-day record in Super League to 14 straight wins.
Rovers, cheered on by a crowd of 11,526, were unable to give coach Craig Sandercock his first opening-day win in three attempts.
Having seen Huddersfield and St Helens start their seasons in style, the pressure was on the Rhinos to follow suit.
In the east Hull sunshine, Leeds took the lead after just four minutes.
Rovers full-back Greg Eden spilled the ball over his try line when trying to gather Rob Burrow’s kick through and centre Joel Moon was on hand to ground the ball.
Kevin Sinfield started his season with his first successful conversion to give Leeds a 6-0 lead.
Ben Cockayne should have scored on his return to Rovers but he was unable to hold on to Kris Welham’s quick pass just three metres from the Leeds try line.
Rovers were back on level terms in the 21st minute when Kris Keating dived over to score on his debut. The scrum-half, who was signed to replace Michael Dobson, took advantage of a large gap that opened up in the heart of Leeds’s defence. Craig Hall converted to make it 6-6.
Leeds restored their lead in the 48th minute when Briscoe scored from 45 metres in the right-hand corner. Sinfield missed the conversion but the visitors led 10-6.
Briscoe was celebrating his second try nine minutes later. Welham jumped out of the Rovers’ defensive line, missed the ball and made the try a formality. Sinfield again was off target with the conversion attempt.
Briscoe’s day got even better in the 62nd minute when the former Hull winger completed his hat-trick after a superb break by Kallum Watkins.
Sinfield’s kicking game was still out of sorts as he missed his third kick, but Leeds led 18-6.
Two minutes later, Danny McGuire’s try sealed the win. Picking up a loose pass near the halfway line, he sprinted clear of the Rovers’ defence to score. With a straightforward conversion, Sinfield struck an upright and missed his fourth goal.
The game was over for Rovers trailing 22-6 with 15 minutes to play and it got worse for the home side when Burrow broke clear and sent his full-back Zac Hardaker over near the posts. Sinfield converted to the biggest cheer of the day as Leeds extended their lead to 28-6. With plenty of success down their right-hand side, Leeds continued to probe and were rewarded with another try when Watkins scored.
Rovers coach Craig Sandercock had no complaints about the result. He said: “It was a good tight first-half performance but unfortunately Leeds have some world-class outside backs and they were on fire.
“We needed to be better defensively in the second half but their backs were way too good for us.
“We want to get better and the boys are working hard together.
“The fact it was a tight first half is a positive. It wasn’t like Leeds came and blew us off the pitch.
“If we can play two good halves defensively then we’ll do okay.”
Hull KR: Eden, D. Hodgson, Hall, Welham, Cockayne, Burns, Keating, Weyman, J. Hodgson, Poore, Langley, Larroyer, Costigan. Substitutes: A. Walker, J. Walker, Horne, Green.
Leeds: Hardaker, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Sinfield, Singleton, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Ablett, Clarkson. Substitutes: Leuluai, Aiton, Bailey, Sutcliffe.
Referee: R Silverwood (RFL).