Rhinos made to work by Bulls as Delaney steals show on his debut

New signing Brett Delaney enjoyed an impressive debut for Leeds Rhinos as the champions warmed up for the new season with a hard-fought 12-10 win over Bradford Bulls in Matt Diskin's testimonial match at Headingley.

The former Gold Coast Titans centre, who is a direct replacement for England international Lee Smith, scored one try and sent winger Scott Donald over for the other as a near full-strength Leeds side saw off a plucky Bulls outfit.

Among the other highlights for the Rhinos, stand-off Danny McGuire showed touches of class and Australian Danny Buderus outshone beneficiary Diskin in the hooking role on his comeback from a broken leg.

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Buderus, out since July, carved out an opening for McGuire with his first touch midway through the first half and demonstrated some skilful dummy-half play in a cameo display.

Bradford coach Steve McNamara decided against playing new signing Matt Orford, who arrived in the country only a fortnight ago, but will have been delighted with the efforts of fellow Australian newcomers Brett Kearney and Heath L'Estrange.

Kearney, who switched from stand-off to take Orford's place, produced a series of neat breaks and kicked intelligently in an impressive overall performance.

Stand-off Paul Sykes scored an equalising try for the Bulls on the stroke of half-time and, after Delaney had put the Rhinos back ahead, dangerous winger Stuart Reardon added a second on 55 minutes after following up Kearney's grubber kick that slowed up in the mud.

But Sykes missed the conversion to leave Leeds two points ahead and although the visitors looked the better team for long periods of the second half, the Rhinos' defence held firm.

Rhinos' coach Brian McClennan was delighted for newcomer Delaney after his memorable debut.

"Frog came up with some nice touches," said McClennan. "His timing was perfect with way he held up the ball for Scotty. He defended strong and got some nice carries.

"I know he was anxious about his first game but he's going to be a real fine addition for the Rhinos."

Diskin, who has spent the last 10 years at Headingley, was delighted with the attendance of 5,759 on a bitterly cold afternoon.

"I've been real nervous this week," he said. "It's all a bit surreal. I've been as proud as anybody to have represented this club and I'm humbled by the turn-out."

McNamara was happy with his team's display and especially the performance of newcomer Brett Kearney, who caught the eye at scrum-half.

"Matt was desperate to get out there but he's not managed to put his boots on yet," said McNamara.

"We've not touched grass for four weeks and even had to cancel our practise session yesterday.

"But the hit-out was positive and encouraging. They were tremendously difficult conditions but we created some real good chances.

"Brett Kearney showed we have another genuine half-back and he can rival some of the quickest around."

Richard Agar underlined the important role Sean Long will play in his Hull side's bid for success this season after he helped them to a 28-16 friendly win over Hull KR.

The evergreen scrum-half has been recruited as the Black and Whites' captain and playmaker after 12 trophy-laden years at St Helens, and gave his new fans a tantalising glimpse of what is to come this season as he guided them to a deserved win to mark Richard Horne's testimonial.

Horne, 27, has overcome diabetes and a career-threatening neck injury to make 269 appearances for his hometown club and was rewarded by a crowd of 16,204 at the KC Stadium, but it was Long who stole the show on the field, despite the generous man-of-the-match award given to Horne.

"Long is a smart operator and knows his way around the park and once the players get used to him he'll be really influential for us," Agar said.

"He's been like a spring chicken at training. His enthusiasm is something that has really stood out. He's constantly talking about rugby all the time and he trains like he is 21. He showed he has got the ability to make the right plays at the right time."

Horne, who revealed after the tie that his shirt for the game was presented to him by former Hull full-back Steve Prescott – now a well-known fundraiser after his battles with cancer – actually suffered a shoulder injury during the game and will be assessed today.

Hull KR coach Justin Morgan was satisfied with his side's showing, especially as they have been unable to train for the majority of the last month owing to the weather.

"It was encouraging," he said. "It was an extension of training. It was good to get a run and there were some encouraging signs.

"I just want to pay tribute to Richard Horne. He is a fantastic ambassador for Hull FC and the city. He is someone I have a lot of respect for as a player and a man."