Last night, the focus of Hull KR fans was on Craven Park and their Challenge Cup quarter-final tie with Castleford Tigers.
The Robins rose to the occasion defeating last year’s Wembley finalists 34-10 with Elliot Minchella scoring twice as Hull KR make it two semi-finals in less than 12 months after playing in the Super League semis in September.
However, in West Yorkshire some members of their first team squad were playing in a much closer affair against Leeds Rhinos’ reserves – the closest Leeds fans can get to watching their first team play with weekend with the Rhinos out of the cup.
The two sets of reserves served up a try fest at Stanningley with a number of Super League stars figuring including Challenge Cup winner Alex Mellor who was included for the Rhinos so he can get some game time with the arrival of James Bentley in 2022 making minutes harder to come by for the former Huddersfield man.
On the flip side of things, Hull KR had the likes of Will Dagger, Ethan Ryan, Ben Crooks and Will Tate playing. Controversial figure Brad Takairangi figured too at centre after the club cleared him to play following his sentencing this week as he was given a 12-month suspended sentence for “serious driving offences.” Korbin Sims also played at loose-forward in a Hull KR side full of Super League experience compared with their Leeds counterparts.
Despite that Leeds dominated the first half although they started slowly as they went 8-0 down owing to tries from Ethan Ryan and Will Tate. Leeds then hit the Robins with three quick fire tries as Sam Davies caught the eye. However, a second from Ryan got Hull KR back into it and it was three tries a piece but the boot of Jack Sinfield separated the sides kicking three from three to make it 18-12.
Sinfield then created a try for Joe Gibbons – another son of a former Leeds player being the son of Dave Gibbons who played for the club in 1996. Sinfield was then involved again as he created Leeds’ fifth try before halftime and converted to give the Rhinos a 30-12 lead at the break.
In the second half, Hull KR would mount a serious comeback with Ryan wrapping up a hat-trick on the back of good play from Dagger and Crooks.
Leeds would move further out in front with another try but three Robins scores late on gave the Rhinos something to sweat about. Ryan created a try for Phoenix Laulu-Tongaga’e before he scored a fourth himself. Max Kirkbright picked up his second of the game to wrap up the scoring.
A fantastic contest which ended 36-32 in Leeds’ favour with Brad Takairangi making his first appearance since controversy gripped his career, Ethan Ryan scoring four tries and Alex Mellor getting some minutes in his legs ahead of Leeds’ Easter fixtures against Huddersfield and Castleford.