Jack Broadbent leads way for Academy graduates at Leeds Rhinos

IF 20-year-old Jack Broadbent wanted to make a mark on a rare first-team appearance for Leeds Rhinos he certainly achieved his aim.

The Academy product scored the match-winning try – his first in Leeds colours – and also delivered a match-saving play in the final stages of their Super League opener against Wakefield Trinity.

Given Leeds were missing five of their backline to injury on Saturday, it would have been easy to write off their chances in this ‘away’ fixture at Headingley.

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However, despite the best efforts of Trinity’s brilliant winger Tom Johnstone they found a way to win and head into the Good Friday meeting with Castleford Tigers confident the sizeable injury list will not dent their start.

For Batley-born Broadbent, who debuted against Catalans Dragons in September and made just his fourth appearance, things could not have gone much better.

With coach Richard Agar unlikely to have any of his sidelined personnel back for Friday’s game at St Helens, it looks like he will resume his makeshift centre pairing with fellow Academy alumni 22-year-old Alex Sutcliffe.

The game was finely poised at 22-22 before Broadbent – whose impressive weaving first-half run had helped Leeds recover from being 16-4 down – arrowed decisively onto Richie Myler’s perfect pass in the 59th minute.

Not long before, hulking Tonga international Bill Tupou had got on the outside of the young centre to race 50m clear but Myler denied Trinity a try by getting a hand in between as the 30-year-old’s pass tried to find a supporting colleague. It was a crucial moment and, after Luke Gale’s 75th-minute penalty made it 28-22, Broadbent was similarly on hand to intercept when Johnstone looked like being sent to the left corner for his hat-trick.

Victory: Jack Broadbent scores the winning try for Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Steve Riding

Asked by The Yorkshire Post when he found out he would be picked, Broadbent said: “It was quite early on in the week, to be fair, probably Tuesday.

“Rich tipped me up and told me I’d be playing as, after the Huddersfield [friendly] game, I’d been in with a good chance.

“So I got my head down and worked hard at it. I’m pleased with my game and how it went.

“It felt unreal to score; my first try for Leeds, in round one, you can’t beat that feeling when you cross the line. I know there’s a few things I need to fix up defensively and obviously Tupou is a really good player.

Going over: Richie Myler scores a try for Leeds Rhinos. Picture: Steve Riding

“I’d watched video on him all week and he just did exactly what I watched. Richie has saved me there and done a class job. I was pleased with that run in the first half as that got us back on the front foot and then obviously the intercept at the back end which stopped them scoring.

“We got the win so I am really happy. I don’t think there’s a better time for Academy players to be at Leeds; they are blooding us all in and it shows they are willing to play us and give us a chance. It’s just on us then.”

Wakefield should not be too disheartened; there was plenty of evidence here they will be competitive this year and clearly, compared to some times last season, the energy and effort cannot be questioned. Mason Lino, the Samoa half-back signed from Newcastle Knights, offered an encouraging debut, linking well with Jacob Miller when Trinity built a 16-4 lead inside the opening quarter.

That came courtesy of Johnstone’s dazzling 80m effort, where the England winger beat Tom Briscoe and also stood up Myler, as well as tries from Innes Senior and Matty Ashurst.

Crossing: Innes Senior scores Wakefield's second try. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Still, Leeds – who had scored first through Luke Briscoe – ruthlessly responded via Alex Sutcliffe, Brad Dwyer and Myler to lead 22-16 at the break, Trinity levelling when Johnstone picked off Gale’s kick and raced 80m again early in the second period.

Wakefield Trinity: Walker; Senior, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Lino; Fifita, Crowther, Arona, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Westerman. Substitutes: J Wood, Batchelor, Green, Tangata.

Leeds Rhinos: Myler; T Briscoe, J Broadbent, A Sutcliffe, L Briscoe; L Sutcliffe, Gale; Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Mellor, Martin, Tetevano. Substitutes: Dwyer, Thompson, Donaldson, Smith.

Referee: S Mikalauskas (Leigh).

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