Though Leeds Rhinos came away with a 24-10 win today against rivals Bradford Bulls, there was concern amongst fans when new signing from Wigan Warriors James McDonnell limped off the field.
However, Assistant Coach Chev Walker revealed to the press after the game that there is nothing to worry about.
He said: “He’s fine. Just precaution really. No major issue really. He could have played on.”
This led to Joe Gibbons replacing him. He would go on to create a try for Richie Myler and score one himself, Walker was impressed:
“He’s grown in pre-season, in the past he’s been a bit inconsistent but he is getting better with than and getting his rewards. He is putting in practice what he is learning in practice.”
In both Leeds’ pre-season fixtures prior to today, new signing from Doncaster Leon Ruan and another young backrow has been impressive even having an assist against Wakefield Trinity but today he got the opening try hitting a good line from Richie Myler’s ball to score.
Bradford were clearly happy to keep the ball alive and were stretching Leeds with Jack Walker especially impressive. They mounted pressure and eventually forced Rhyse Martin to take out one of their attacking player resulting in a sin bin. Sadly the Bulls knocked on straight after that.
Jack Walker was shinning at his old stomping ground. A constant threat out the back he popped up down the right to put Joe Arundel through a gap for the Bulls to get a deserved try.
Straight after that, Leeds won the ball back in an attacking position from a short kick off. After a rampant run by Sam Lisone, Cameron Smith showed what he can bring to the number 13 shirt at Leeds in his first minutes of the season when his flat ball allowed Sam Walters to turn in the tackle and offload to allow Morgan Gannon to stroll over. With Marin in the bin, Smith went on to convert and make it 12-4.
A lovely short ball saw Leeds academy product AJ Wallace tear through he then tried to fend off Ash Handley at fullback. As Handley held on Wallace offloaded for what seemed like a lovely try but the pass was ruled forward.
After a similar opening down the right a few minutes earlier, the ball found its way out to Joe Gibbons and the young man staked a claim for a first team spot when he tore through and found Ash Handley in support. He then tipped it on to Myler to make it 18-4 on the stroke of halftime.
Leeds nearly started the second half with a try when a lovely kick was taken by Liam Tindall but the Bulls managed to get underneath the ball.
Young Mr Gibbons again showed his class when he went from provider to try scorer as he took a drop off from Jack Sinfield to score. Joe is the son of former Leeds player David who worked as assistant coach for the Rhinos’ women’s team until recently. A nice moment to see two sons of ex-Leeds players link up for a try.
For the first time two exciting stars of the future were in each other’s cross hairs as a lovely Sinfield kick was taken by Huddersfield Giants bound George Flanagan Jr. He jinked and weaved his way through only to be hit by a brilliant tackle by Sinfield. As the years tick by expect these two to meet more and more.
The Bulls built some pressure on the Leeds line by forcing a goal line drop out and as they attacked the ball hit a player or two and landed in the hands of George Flanagan Sr to score.
A brilliant break down the left from the Bulls looked set to yield points until Liam Tindall tracked back and dragged down Gill which meant the scores stayed 24-10 to Leeds.