Hull FC 16 Leeds Rhinos 62: Ash Handley scores five tries as visitors claim crushing derby success

THEY MAY have been feeling blue for most of this season, but a record win at Hull FC left Leeds Rhinos in the pink.
Five star: Ash Handley scores the third of his five tries against Hull.  Picture: Bruce RollinsonFive star: Ash Handley scores the third of his five tries against Hull.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Five star: Ash Handley scores the third of his five tries against Hull. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

For the third time in 2022, Leeds wore an all-pink kit, introduced after the season began, for Saturday’s game at Hull FC.

They will surely be planning on donning it more often as it yet again proved a lucky charm.

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Leeds have struggled for wins and points so far, scoring more than 30 only three times, each while kitted in pink.

Kruise control: Hooker Kruise Leeming scores the Rhinos' fourth try.
 Picture: Bruce RollinsonKruise control: Hooker Kruise Leeming scores the Rhinos' fourth try.
 Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Kruise control: Hooker Kruise Leeming scores the Rhinos' fourth try. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Those three victories, at Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves and Hull, are Leeds’ only successes on the road this term and have yielded 136 points.

Winger Ash Handley in particular has been in the pink, running in 10 tries, including five in Saturday’s 62-16 rout.

After the game Leeds coach Rohan Smith admitted the players had been joking in the changing rooms about their success rate in what is supposedly the team’s third strip.

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A lucky charm it may be, but Smith is clearly having a positive effect on Rhinos, six games into his reign.

Miles better: Richie Myler scores for the Rhinos. Picture: Bruce RollinsonMiles better: Richie Myler scores for the Rhinos. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Miles better: Richie Myler scores for the Rhinos. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Leeds have won half of His matches in charge and while there is a lot still to work on, their attack, which was toothless earlier in the campaign, now has real bite.

They scored 11 tries against a patched up and woefully out of form Hull side and the win keeps alive their hopes of a top-six finish.

“We certainly played well,” was Smith’s, perhaps overly modest, assessment.

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“We’ve been working hard on all aspects of our game and that’s probably the first time when it has been an all round game, where we’ve largely been in control throughout.

“The scoreline was close for a while, but I thought we showed some of what we can do, for sure.”

Leeds led 12-0 after as many minutes through tries by Mikolaj Oledzki, on his 100th appearance and Handley.

But Darnell McIntosh got Hull back into the game with a length of the field interception and Danny Houghton touched down in the next set, with McIntosh adding the extras.

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Leeds crossed twice more, through Handley and captain Kruise Leeming and should have been further than 22-10 ahead at the interval.

When Chris Satae, the only Hull player to impress, powered over and Josh Griffin converted early in the second period, the gap was only six points.

However, Leeming’s second try proved the turning point and the dam burst after that as Leeds ran in 36 points in the final 26 minutes.

Richie Myler, who was restored to the full-back role and had an outstanding game, was next to cross, followed by Liam Sutcliffe, David Fusitu’a and then Handley who went in on 69, 74 and 78 minutes.

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He became only the fourth Leeds player, after Danny McGuire (twice), Ali Lauitiiti and Ryan Hall to score five tries in a Super League game.

Rhyse Martin’s nine goals added to Hull’s misery as Leeds gave a clear indication of the attacking style of rugby Smith is keen to promote.

After struggling to gel, admittedly with only limited time on the field together, earlier in the campaign, stand-off Blake Austin and scrum-half Aidan Sezer combined well and with Myler and hooker Leeming also in top form, Leeds’ ‘spine’ were pivotal to their win.

“It was the first time Aidan, Kruise and Ausin have played well together, which is a positive step for us,” added Smith.

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Handley, though, stole the show and the coach was full of praise for the left-wing who has been consistently good this season, with only limited reward.

Smith said: “He’s a top-end finisher.

“He’s probably a little bit underestimated with how hard he carries the ball in yardage as well.

“He’s a great team guy and a leader and it’s nice to see a winger get a bunch of tries once in a while to reward the effort.”

Hull were without all their creative players and showed good resilience to battle back into the game after twice trailing by 12 points, but their capitulation in the final half an hour was spectacular.

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It was their fourth successive defeat and the Black and Whites are in danger of missing out on a place in the play-offs.

The home fans weren’t slow to make their feelings known at the end and the forthcoming Magic Weekend derby against Hull KR now looks like a make or break game.

Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Fusitu’a, Hardaker, Sutcliffe, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Bentley, Martin, Donaldson. Subs Smith, Gannon, Walters, O’Connor.

Hull FC: Shaul, McIntosh, Griffin, Scott, Wynne, Hookem, Lovodua, Evans, Houghton, Taylor, Lane, Sao, Johnstone. Subs Satae, Fash, Brown, Balmforth.

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).