Leeds Rhinos claimed the spoils on the first outing of pre-season as they edged an entertaining, albeit low-scoring, Boxing Day encounter against West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield Trinity.
Both sides will have taken plenty of encouragement from their first hit-outs of the new campaign – not least from the performances of both sides’ new half-backs.
For the visitors, Danny Brough was impressive and appears to have given Wakefield an extra edge to their kicking game, while Tui Lolohea excelled with ball in hand, creating both of Leeds’ tries as they came back from 4-0 down to win 10-4.
The biggest talking point, however, was arguably the number of penalties awarded during the first friendly of pre-season, with Robert Hicks blowing the whistle 24 times. 15 of those came in the first half, in which only one try was scored which went to the visitors.
Trinity had enjoyed arguably the better of the chances in the opening 40 minutes, coming close on several occasions thanks to Brough’s razor-sharp kicking game.
However, they eventually broke the deadlock when Jacob Miller collected a loose ball, before providing Bill Tupou with just enough space to force his way over in the corner – though Ryan Hampshire missed the conversion.
Leeds had one or two chances at the other end, the best of them coming when a fantastic Lolohea kick just found its way into touch before Tom Briscoe could collect for what would have been a certain try.
Wakefield finished the first half with 12 men, after Tyler Randell was sin-binned for a high tackle on Luke Briscoe – before, in the moments after the break, Jack Walker followed Randell to the bin after holding down an instinctive Miller break for a fraction too long, temporarily making it 12-a-side.
Defence remained thoroughly on top in the second half, and as it appeared increasingly likely it would take a mistake from either side to force another try, young Wakefield winger Lee Kershaw was caught off-guard by the bounce of a Lolohea kick, allowing Tom Briscoe to collect and race to the corner – though Lolohea missed the conversion from out wide, leaving it level at 4-4 heading into the final quarter.
But Lolohea would make amends shortly after as the hosts went ahead for the first time, his quick offload freeing Ash Handley to cross in the corner – with Lolohea converting to seal victory for the hosts on a thoroughly entertaining afternoon.
Leeds: Walker, T Briscoe, A Sutcliffe, Handley, L Briscoe, Lolohea, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Peteru, L Sutcliffe, Ward, Smith. Subs (all used): Myler, Mullally, Oledzki, Jones-Buchanan, Golding, Donaldson.
Tries: Briscoe, Handley. Goal: Lolohea
Wakefield: Hampshire, Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Arundel, Tupou, Miller, Brough, Kopczak, Randell, Arona, Ashurst, Kirmond, King. Subs used: Batchelor, Annakin, Fifita, Crowther, Jowitt, Kershaw, Pauli, Wood. Not used: Batchelor, Jowitt.
Referee: R Hicks.