Hull FC 12 Leeds Rhinos 43: Sinfield leads fightback for Rhinos to stun Hull

Leeds Rhinos' Kallum Watkins trygoes over for a second-half try. Picture: Steve Riding.
Leeds Rhinos' Kallum Watkins trygoes over for a second-half try. Picture: Steve Riding.
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WHAT do Neil Fox, Jim Sullivan and Gus Risman have in common?

Aside from the fact they are each true rugby league legends they are now, also, the only people to have scored more points in the sport than Leeds Rhinos’ own immortal, Kevin Sinfield.

The former England captain last night slotted seven conversions and a drop goal to not only help maintain his club’s 100 per cent start to the season and go top of Super League but to ease to a career tally of 3,995 points.

This meant he replaced another stand-off – John Woods, the former Bradford Northern and Great Britain No 6 who retired more than 20 years ago – in fourth place in the all-time list.

Even allowing for Sinfield’s renowned fitness, there is no way, now aged 34, he will overhaul the leader Fox or Sullivan, who both amassed more than 6,000 points but Risman, on 4,050, should at least be overtaken some time next month.

Hull, who fielded Steve Michaels last night despite an arrest warrant apparently hanging over the centre’s head back home in Australia, will be hoping to have picked up another win by then.

Lee Radford’s side have now lost three successive matches and, despite leading 12-0 at half-time last night after Leon Pryce’s brace took him to his own milestone of 200 career tries, they were – eventually – completely outplayed.

The visitors, bereft of any cohesion early on, were suddenly inspired by Danny McGuire and Kallum Watkins as they finally found their cutting edge with 43 unanswered second-half points.

Admittedly, McGuire’s second try in his 350th game for the club and the one that gave them the lead in the 53rd minute came from an obvious forward pass from the England centre Watkins.

However, such was Leeds’s growing control against opponents depleted by injuries beforehand, it would have only delayed the inevitable onslaught, proven as Watkins stylishly cut them open himself for his own try and then Kylie Leuluai took the more direct approach soon after.

By the time Rob Burrow, on his return after being left out of the previous two games, added two more to take him to 150 Super League tries, Hull were unrecognisable from the side that had impressed so well in the first period.

Having already lost Richard Whiting to a broken hand in Saturday’s loss at Salford, Hull overcame countless other selection issues with Setaimata Sa, Jordan Thompson and Chris Green all pulling up on the eve of the game.

Furthermore, Liam Watts withdrew just minutes before the game after apparently injuring his hamstring in the warm-up meaning Jansin Turgut, the England Academy captain who does not turn 19 until Sunday, was a late addition on the bench.

However, you would never have guessed at such disruption given the manner in which Hull started, their pack direct and strong, Danny Houghton buzzing around the ruck and halves Pryce and Marc Sneyd feeding off all the momentum while implementing a quality kicking game, too.

Leeds were unable to handle the initial pace as the home side built up a deserved 12-0 lead courtesy of Pryce’s double.

Houghton had already forced one drop-out when he went in for his first, Tom Briscoe gifting more possession after failing to hold onto an intercept attempt.

Sneyd’s cultured left boot chipped up for Pryce, one of the rangiest stand-offs in the game, to leap highest and score, Sneyd converting.

They nearly scored in the next set from the same move, Michaels this time gathering Sneyd’s kick only to be held up by Ryan Hall after Houghton had initially splintered the Leeds defence with a sharply taken penalty tap.

With the visitors ragged in defence and with the ball, Hull gained more confidence, Tom Lineham having a ‘try’ disallowed only due to their chase being marginally offside as Hall dropped Sneyd’s latest hanging kick.

There was controversy when they did finally gain their second try, though, given referee Richard Silverwood had awarded a knock-on when Joe Westerman lost possession only to be persuaded to seek further advice.

It was overturned, even though it looked correct, and from there Pryce twisted out of some tackles close to the Leeds line to stretch over for Sneyd to convert.

Rhinos continued to stutter and, though Pryce just clung on to prevent a Jamie Jones-Buchanan try, they were strangely erratic.

Aiton shovelled a couple of awful passes that McGuire knocked on, Sinfield almost missed touch with a penalty and then threw a pass to no one from a scrum, McGuire forced a forward pass, and so on and so on.

But the second half was a different matter, Leeds level 12-12 before Hull even took possession.

With just 36 seconds gone, prop Brad Singleton made a surging break for McGuire to finish off and in the next set the favour was returned as the scrum-half’s pinpoint pass sent the forward through untouched.

Watkins smoothly accelerated into space down the right for McGuire’s second and Leeds were suddenly on their way to their first win here since 2011.

Hull FC: Shaul; Lineham, Michaels, Yeaman, Talanoa; Pryce, Sneyd; Paea, Houghton, Bowden, Ellis, Minichiello, Westerman. Substitutes: Turgut, Paleaaesina, Abdull, Rankin.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Cuthbertson, Aiton, Peacock, Ablett, Ward, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes: Achurch, Burrow, Singleton, Leuluai.

Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).