Kallum Watkins continued his fine late-season form to help Leeds to a 32-0 win over spirited part-timers Batley that all but secures their survival.
Leeds were widely expected to cruise to their fifth straight victory in the Qualifiers but they were frustrated by John Kear’s Batley for large parts of the match, the first between the sides at Headingley since 1977.
The Bulldogs more than matched their star-studded hosts in the first half but Watkins proved to be the difference with two tries and an assist for Tom Briscoe in an impressive performance.
A Ryan Hall double and Rob Burrow’s try completed a 10th win out of 11 for the Rhinos but the scoreline flattered the 2015 treble winners.
The Bulldogs came flying out of the traps and had Leeds rocking in the opening exchanges with their aggression both in defence and attack.
Watkins has found his best form at the business end of the season and it was his neat step and offload that allowed Briscoe to open the scoring on 17 minutes.
Leeds were forced to defend repeat sets close to their own line after James Segeyaro spilled the restart but Batley were unable to break through and found themselves 10-0 down just after the half-hour mark. Watkins took Brett Ferres’s delayed pass and scrambled his way over.
For all their good work the Bulldogs it got worse as Watkins ran a good angle to take another Ferres pass.
Batley were better than the 16-0 scoreline suggested and they began the second half on the front foot after Ferres allowed the kick-off to bounce.
But they were again kept out by strong Leeds defence and fell further behind when Liam Sutcliffe’s cut-out pass gave Hall an easy finish in the corner on the back of Carl Ablett’s quick play the ball.
There was little else for Leeds fans to shout about in the second half until Hall went over again after Jimmy Keinhorst spotted a hole on Batley’s short side.
More and more gaps were appearing in the Bulldogs’ defensive line and Brad Singleton was next to find one as he charged upfield before allowing Burrow to stroll in under the posts. Jordan Lilley added his fourth conversion to complete the scoring on a tough night at the office for Leeds.
Leeds: Sutcliffe, T. Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall, Lilley, Burrow, Galloway, Segeyaro, Singleton, Ferres, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan. Substitutes: Cuthbertson, Ward, Mullally, Golding.
Batley: D. Scott, Reittie, Smeaton, Ulugia, Ainscough, Walker, Brambani, Hirst, Leak, Rowe, Day, Bretherton, Blake. Substitutes: Davey, Gledhill, Chandler, Lillycrop.
Referee: J Cobb (RFL).