TEENAGER HARRY Newman scored four tries as Leeds Rhinos put their league woes aside to thrash Workington Town 78-6 at Emerald Headingley last night.
During a dual-registration spell with Featherstone Rovers Newman has been scoring tries for fun in the Championship – a level above League One Town – and if the visitors breathed a sigh of relief when they saw Konrad Hurrell wasn’t playing, that didn’t last long.
Newman crossed three times in the first half when Rhinos cruised into a 42-6 lead and added another after the break.
Leeds won’t get much out of a predictably one-sided rout other than a place in Monday’s sixth-round draw.
But, after all the doom and gloom in Super League so far, they did have an opportunity to regain some form and confidence.
Rhinos made a staggering number of handling errors and tended to either knock-on or score.
That many mistakes would put them under enormous pressure against a Betfred Super League team, but Town – despite a big effort – didn’t have the tools to cause Leeds serious damage.
They managed one try and also had three players – Karl Olstrom, Danny Tickle and Perry Singleton – held up over the line.
There wasn’t anything wrong with Rhinos’ finishing when they did hold on to the ball. The 78 points was their fourth highest in a game at Headingley.
Other than Newman’s four tries, the big positive for Rhinos was an outstanding Sinfield-esque kicking display by Liam Sutcliffe who converted all 13 touchdowns.
That total has been bettered only once by a Leeds player, when Iestyn Harris kicked a record 17 goals in a Challenge Cup tie against Swinton in 2001.
It equalled Harris’ total from a game in 1999 and Lewis Jones’ in 1957.
Having to enter the Challenge Cup a round earlier than most of their rivals is an embarrassing situation for Leeds – who have won the competition more times than anyone other than Wigan – to be in, but it has its perks.
While other top-flight sides were involved in tough league battles, Rhinos – against a semi-professional team from two divisions down – had an opportunity to give key players a breather ahead of the busy Easter period.
Jack Walker and Cameron Smith missed the game owing to injuries picked up against Hull KR last week, but Tom Briscoe, Hurrell, Ash Handley, Brad Dwyer, Mikolaj Oledzki and Adam Cuthbertson weren’t risked, while Trent Merrin was unavailable on compassionate leave.
The four teenagers in Leeds’ side are all England academy internationals and none looked out of place. Owen Trout started alongside Newman and played the full game, Muizz Mustapha came off the bench in the first half and Callum McLelland replaced Richie Myler, after the half-back’s third try, with 25 minutes left.
Mustapha, believed to be the first Nigerian-born player to appear for Leeds, got big minutes and ran the ball very strongly, as well as showing he is not afraid to get stuck into defence.
Tui Lolohea was switched from stand-off to full-back, in place of Walker and both wingers – Luke Briscoe and Ashton Golding – got a first run of the season after playing for Rovers.
Lolohea looks assured as the last line of defence and read some tricky kicks well. Both starting wingers scored, but Briscoe went off hurt in the second quarter.
The game was never a contest. Rhinos took three minutes to open the scoring. Some strong defence by Town was wasted when Tyllar Mellor fumbled Richie Myler’s kick almost on the line and by the next time they had possession – after 14 minutes – they were 24-0 down.
From the scrum Myler and Lolohea combined to send Briscoe over; Wellington Albert showed what he is capable of with a powerful run from the restart, Town were penalised and off that Golding crossed on the other flank after Myler, Matt Parcell, Sutcliffe, Lolohea and Kallum Watkins had handled.
Sutcliffe converted both, from opposite touchlines and then after, in the next set, Newman powered over from Ferres’ pass.
Parcell then broke through the middle and a jubilant Albert was on his right shoulder to score the fourth try. He had time to wave to the, empty, Western Terrace before touching down one-handed.
Rhinos got sloppy after that, failing to complete all but one of their next seven sets and that gave Town some possession near the hosts’ line.
Town tried to move the ball and their halves put in a couple of nice kicks, which were well-read by Lolohea at the back.
Newman – amid all the spilled ball – displayed excellent footwork and pace to score a fine solo try on 18 minutes, the conversion making it 30-0.
Newman switched to the left-wing when Briscoe was hurt, with Brett Ferres as his centre and the youngster completed his hat-trick nine minutes from the break off a scrum on halfway, Lolohea providing the final pass. Six minutes before the break Myler’s pass hit Ferres on the head and was called a knock-on. He was penalised for dissent and Town scored in the subsequent set through Caine Barnes. Carl Forber converted.
Myler, back after a one-game ban, scored either side of the break, stepping through for a well-taken try before crossing after the defence failed to deal with his hick kick.
Mellor was offside when he touched down Forber’s kick and in the subsequent set Ferres went over from a tap penalty to bring up the half-century. Albert is a strong runner, but he can also offload as he showed when he handled twice in the build-up up to Myler’s hat-trick score, on 55.
Newman scored his fourth – another strong, pacy finish – and the recalled Parcell went over with nine minutes left.
With 30 seconds remaining Rhinos rushed to form a scrum and Golding went over for the final try as the hooter sounded.
That left Sutcliffe with a kick from the right touchline to maintain his 100 per cent record and he nailed it.
Town tried hard, but were out of their depth physically even against a makeshift Rhinos team. Their cause wasn’t helped when veteran prop Oliver Wilkes pulled out after the warm-up.
As well as Brad Singleton’s brother Perry, their line-up included Izaac Farrell whose father Anthony was a Cup winner – and team-mate of Jamie Jones-Buchanan – with Rhinos 20 years ago.
In a nice gesture, both sets of players posed for a joint team picture at the end and Town received a warm ovation from the better than expected 4,197 crowd.