Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott brought back skipper Kevin Sinfield for today’s sixth round Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie against Huddersfield Giants at Headingley, and Sinfield led the Rhinos to a 48-16 victory in a performance that combined power and ruthlessness to which the Giants had no answer.
It began for Leeds in the seventh minute, when Kallum Watkins picked up a loose offload from Giants fullback Scott Grix to run 90 metres to touch down, with Sinfield kicking the first of eight goals that put him on 4,046 career points, just four behind the legendary Gus Risman who lies in third place in the list of all-time points scorers.
Sinfield then laid on a second try for Watkins, and the third came from Ryan Hall in the corner, with Sinfield missing his only conversion attempt of the afternoon.
Paul Aiton scored the Rhinos’ fourth try after 20 minutes after a Danny McGuire kick had created confusion in the Giants’ defence.
From then the Giants steadied the ship, and they scored their first try from Kyle Wood after 36 minutes, as the Giants’ halfback cleverly beat McGuire and Joel Moon, although Brough couldn’t convert.
Referee Phil Bentham had strained his hamstring and was replaced for the second half by John Roberts, but it made little difference to the outcome, with McGuire extending the Rhinos’ lead after 49 minutes with some magical passing, before Sinfield landed a penalty to make it 30-4 on 55 minutes, putting the game out of reach of the Giants.
The Rhinos scored three more tries from Adam Cuthbertson, Hall (after great interplay with McGuire) and Carl Ablett, while the Giants also scored two more tries from Brett Ferres, who was making a return to action after a knee injury, and Grix.
But the day belonged to the Rhinos, and on this form they will surely be hard to beat whoever they draw when the quarter-finals are decided on Sunday afternoon.
A full report, photos and analysis of this game will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.