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Controversial new rules have massive impact on Leeds Rhinos clash

Liam Moore officiated the World Club Challenge

Today will have been seen as a new era for Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity but it was perhaps much more than that.

The game played host to four of Leeds Rhinos’ statement signings ahead of 2024 in the shape of Andy Ackers, Matt Frawley, Lachie Miller and Mickael Goudemand whilst fellow new recruits Brodie Croft and Paul Momirovski are back home in Australia.

Opponents Wakefield were also beginning their own new era under new owner Matt Ellis, new coach Daryl Powell and giving debuts to the likes of Lachlan Walmsley and Iain Thornley in their 17.

But today marked the first fixture involving a Super League team since the announcement that the sport is set to pivot towards new rules in the coming years with legal tackle height reduced to armpit height among others.

So, how did that effect today’s game as Tom Grant had the job of ushering in this new era at Headingley Stadium just one day after Christmas?

Inside the first half there were a fair few high tackles many in the ground felt were soft and were nowhere near the standard that is traditionally penalised. The first of these did incite groans from the crowd and one fan near me shouted “We’ll be playing touch and pass soon” but that was the last of the real complaints from fans.

There were three more in the first half that would be classified as “soft” penalties which were soon forgotten about.

The thing that had the biggest impact was the new hyper focus on ruck. Within the first 20 minutes Wakefield were at fault three times and lost possession over an incorrect play the ball. There were two further incidents when teams lost possession for a poor ruck as well within the first half.

Six agains were also given with greater ease which benefited the fast paced Rhinos.

In the second half things were much simpler with just one more of each infringement showing that the game is not head as some fear.

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