Leeds Rhinos 36 Hull KR 16: Kevin Sinfield makes history as Rovers are grounded

Ryan Hall scores the second try against Hull KR.
Ryan Hall scores the second try against Hull KR.
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Kevin Sinfield carved out another piece of history as he helped Leeds stay top of the First Utility Super League with their first win in four matches.

The Rhinos’ most successful ever captain kicked the five points he needed on the 550th appearance of his career to overtake Gus Risman in third place in rugby league’s all-time list of leading scorers.

Sinfield kicked six goals from seven attempts and scored the last of his side’s six tries to take his mammoth points haul to 4,062 as Leeds eventually overcame plucky Hull KR, who made light of the absence of a host of regulars to push their hosts all the way before going down 36-16 at Headingley.

Hull KR, who gave debuts to forwards James Greenwood, who is on loan from Wigan, and Stephen Holker, scored four tries but were unable to kick a goal, which only served to emphasise Sinfield’s value to the leaders.

In-form second row forward Stevie Ward gave Leeds an early lead when he took Danny McGuire’s pass to sidestep his way over for the game’s first try.

But Rovers turned on the style to create two tries for right winger Kieran Dixon in a sparkling five-minute spell to go in front.

The former London Broncos flier set up the position for his first with a lightning break while left winger Josh Mantellato paved the way for his second after scooping on a stray Leeds pass on his own 20-metre line to turn defence into attack.

The Rhinos looked to have taken a grip on the game when they followed suit with two tries in five minutes through second rower Mitch Achurch and winger Ryan Hall, who sent two defenders flying as he barged over in trademark fashion at the corner.

Full-back Ben Cockayne quickly picked himself up from the mighty collision but groggy centre Ken Sio had to be helped from the field to receive further medical attention.

Sinfield kicked the touchline conversion to bring up the point that took him beyond Risman and extend his side’s lead to 18-8 but still the visitors continued to match them blow for blow.

Cockayne took Terry Campese’s pass to slice through the Leeds defence nine minutes from the break and Mantellato finished off a flowing move for Rovers’ fourth try.

Despite scoring four tries to three, the visitors trailed 18-16 at the break after Mantellato and Dixon had missed all four conversion attempts between them and their task quickly got tougher.

Lively hooker Paul Aiton demonstrated neat footwork with a little dab from a play-the-ball on the tryline and prop Brad Singleton followed up to get the touch.

Sinfield struck a post to lose his 100 per cent record with the boot but was back on target on 57 minutes after some delightful handling by McGuire had carved out a second try for Hall.

With a 12-point cushion, Leeds tightened their grip and Sinfield made sure of the win with a penalty before applying the finishing touches with the final try which followed a break by Rob Burrow.

“Not overly joyed,” Rhinos coach Brian McDermott said, when asked about his feelings after the game.

“If you look at the bigger picture, we backed up from a big emotional input from last week.

“We started the game reasonably well, but I’ve got to give Hull KR credit. I didn’t expect them to be as energetic in the game.

“I thought we lacked a bit of energy for the final 25 minutes of that first half.

“One thing I am pleased about is not conceding in the second half.

“I thought there was a fair difference in our energy levels and how we played in the second half.”

On Sinfield’s historic night, McDermott added: “It’s probably the 20th time I’ve talked about a milestone of Kev’s.

“You never get bored of speaking about them and I don’t think he gets bored of achieving them.

“It is fantastic. His longevity, how many times he is injury-free, the amount of games he has played, what a marvelous career he has had – and is having,” added McDermott.

Leeds: Hardaker, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sinfield, McGuire, Cuthbertson, Aiton, Peacock, S. Ward, Achurch, Ablett. Substitutes: Walters, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Burrow.

Hull K R: Cockayne, Dixon, Sio, Welham, Mantellato, Campese, Blair, Cox, Boudebza, Green, Larroyer, Ollett, McCarthy. Substitutes: Greenwood, Donaldson, Esslemont, Holker.

Referee: R Hicks (RFL).