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Hull KR a cut above Leeds Rhinos in friendly: Highlights, talking points and player ratings

Hull KR outclassed Leeds Rhinos this afternoon in what was a disappointing end to pre-season for the Rhinos as they named their strongest possible team for the first time in 2023.

The Robins did the same and looked very impressive.

Highlights:

Typical Ryan Hall
If any club should know about the power of Ryan Hall its Leeds Rhinos yet that didn’t stop them from stopping him. After a Leeds error, Hull KR rolled down field with some top offloads and a sweet move down the left saw Hall one on one with young Luis Roberts. To the young man’s credit, he wasn’t bundled off Hall and stuck to him like glue but Hall had the strength to get the ball down.

Hall gets a second
Ryan Hall got his second of the day showing great power to touch down from the play the ball as Hull KR looked electric with the ball and Leeds continued to squander chances.

Outstanding defence from Hull KR
Leeds finished the half with plenty of possession and, despite the fact their attack had clearly blown away some of the cobwebs from earlier in the game, they threw everything at Hull KR but they absorbed the pressure with some brilliant cover defence.

Perfect end to the half
After absorbing all that pressure Hull KR got to the other end with some quick rucks and powerful running. Then a break from Jordan Abdull coupled with support from Tom Opacic saw him cross for his first try for the club.

Leeds show good cover defence
Something Leeds’ style of play demands, the Rhinos showed some better cover defence in the second half and some brilliant individual tackles on their own line. That said they were needed too frequently. Overall a poor day for the Rhinos.

A rare moment of quality from the Rhinos
On a difficult afternoon, Leeds’ best attacking set of the game yielded points. A Blake Austin break started it, then the Rhinos moved the ball wide to find Rhyse Martin who looked destined to score. He was denied but eventually Leeds got over through Leon Ruan who squeezed over at the corner.

Robins strike back immediately
Shortly after that try, Hull KR got one of their own as a cut out pass found Ethan Ryan who produced a superb finish in the corner.

Litten crowns the win
Jez Litten wrapped up the win as he burrowed over from close range.

Talking Points:

Rohan Smith’s courageous formula invites pressure
Leeds have been committed to short kick-offs in pre-season, whether that translates to the season itself remains to be seen, but early in the game after the first try Leeds kicked short and Hull KR came up with it and attacked again. However, Leeds defended valiantly and denied the try. This is the perfect example of the courage and risk of Rohan Smith’s philosophy. The Rhinos invited pressure but stood up to it.

Suspension concern for Hull KR
Hull KR will be sweating on the availability of star forward Elliot Minchella after he was yellow carded for a danger throw on Richie Myler. Now both Warrington Wolves after Josh McGuire’s red card and Hull KR have reason to worry. Lachlan Coote was later sin binned for his part in an altercation after he copped a head high tackle from Aidan Sezer which saw the Leeds halfback sin binned as well.

Dissent rules all
A worry for both Rohan Smith and Willie Peters will be penalties for dissent. A rare occurrence through the season, there were three dissent penalties in the first half an hour. Something they’ll need to cut out.

Leeds’ attack not clicking
Leeds’ attack wasn’t clicking in the first 40. Perhaps because it was the first time Blake Austin, Aidan Sezer and Richie Myler had played together this pre-season, or the two wingers at centre, but things weren’t sticking. When they did start to stick a little more, the Robins defended well.

Hull KR looking sharp
In 2021 the Robins were the entertainers under Tony Smith. He may have left but on today’s evidence Hull KR will continue to play attacking rugby blending offloads with structured play masterfully.

Pressure valve
As mentioned earlier, Leeds’ approach invites pressure onto them. Last season, they were brilliantly in managing this pressure but today they would exacerbate the pressure and were much less potent in not allowing pressure to convert into points. Perhaps pre-season cobwebs but it is something Rohan Smith will not want to see.

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