Super League champions Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats launched the start of a new season on Friday night with impressive wins.
A second-half hat-trick of tries from 20-year-old centre Kallum Watkins helped Leeds begin the defence of their crown with a hard-fought victory on skipper Kevin Sinfield’s 400th appearance.
The champions were heading for only their third opening-day defeat of the Super League era when they trailed 12-10 after 56 minutes, but Watkins struck twice in five minutes to restore their lead and pounced again eight minutes from the end to complete a notable treble.
Danny McGuire added a late try to create a final score that was harsh on Hull KR, who shrugged off the absence of last year’s player of the year Blake Green and newly-appointed captain Ben Galea to push the champions all the way in coach Craig Sandercock’s first Super League match.
Elsewhere, Wakefield scored five second-half tries to deny Widnes a winning return to Super League.
Peter Fox capped a strong Wakefield finish by touching down twice in the closing minutes after earlier tries from Andy Raleigh, Richie Mathers and Tim Smith had changed the game.
Widnes were competitive for an hour on their new artificial pitch at the Stobart Stadium, with tries from Danny Craven, Patrick Ah Van and Hep Cahill putting them in control.
Yet the Wildcats, who also scored through Ali Lauitiiti in the first half, were always in contention and powered home impressively in coach Richard Agar’s first game in charge
For full match reports, read Saturday’s Yorkshire Post newspaper.