Leeds Rhinos 20-38 Wakefield Trinity: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Wakefield Trinity showed what they could do in 2023 with an exciting team performance today at Headingley as they celebrated Christmas with a 20-38 win over Leeds.

Highlights:

Missed Chances
There were some early missed chances from both sides. Tom Holroyd, on his return to the side, had a try disallowed after a Richie Myler kick was patted back but was deemed to go forward. Then a sweeping move down Wakefield’s left saw the pass miss out winger Lewis Murphy. There were other chances too in the early stages.

Card for Donaldson but not a Christmas one
Leeds were one of the teams to suffer the most cards in 2022 and before the year is out they added another when James Donaldson was shown a yellow for a tip tackle. Leeds managed well in his absence until…

Wakefield take advantage of the numbers
Until Wakefield took advantage of the numbers with a neat set play putting former Rhino Jay Pitts through a gap to score from 15 metres out.

Baptism of fire
Young fullback McKenzie Turner had only just entered the field of play when Max Jowitt burst through, yet the young man stepped up to stop the rampaging fullback.

Lyne gets over
Another set play from Trinity down the right saw centre Reece Lyne find enough space to go through and score.

Debut delight
Justin Sangare didn’t take long to announce himself when a rampaging run and offload left Wakefield in tatters. Then a kick over the top from Richie Myler saw another debutant James McDonnell score.

Quick hands strip Wakefield
Lovely quick hands down the right from halfback Richie Myler and Morgan Gannon helped send Liam Tindall down the wing. He then showed good strength and agility to get round the cover defence and score in the corner.

More missed chances
Lewis Murphy came close to scoring for Trinity as he dived for the ball after a delicate grubber. On the next set Olpherts nearly burst through and offloaded to Myler who dropped it.

Manic sees Battye burst through
Another set play down the right threatened to carve Leeds open but they scrambled well, a hallmark of this Rohan Smith side. However, they let themselves down when Eddie Battye burst through to score before halftime.

40/20 gives Leeds chance to strike back
In the first set of the second half, Kruise Leeming nailed a 40/20 and from the next set a lovely line from stand-off Morgan Gannon saw him cruise through.

Ruan runs through as Leeming cruises in
Leeds regained the lead when a lovely short ball at the line from Richie Myler saw debutant Leon Ruan burst through and tee up Leeming to score.

Another debut day try
Wakefield pulled themselves level again when Renouf Atoni powered over from close range for a simple try.

Kershaw gives Wakefield the lead
As pressure mounted on the Leeds line, a kick to the corner from Lee Gaskell saw another Lee, this time Kershaw, pluck the ball out of the sky to score.

Crowther, Kershaw and Murphy seal win
Late tries from Crowther, Kershaw and Murphy sealed the win underlining the statement Wakefield have sent out to teams ahead of 2023.

Talking Points:

Take it in Turner
It didn’t take long for Rohan Smith to make changes to his 13 as he seemed keen to allow his players to take it in turn and on his turn, youngster McKenzie Turner took his chance to shine. He made a try saving tackle on Jowitt and looked dangerous with the ball.

Smith’s position
Wakefield new signing Morgan Smith started at nine and the role suited him to a tee and allowed Trinity to play with three pivots as they stretched Leeds routinely.

Rohan trusting youth
In friendlies, it is often not until the second when you start to see the young players come to the field but after 20 minutes, Smith was blooding the youngsters who didn’t look out of place. New signing Leon Ruan among others impressed.

Wakefield wingers
Both Lewis Murphy and Lee Kershaw looked dangerous on the wings today. However, neither will wear two or five in the new year with Jorge Taufua and Tom Lineham awarded those shirts. Mark Applegarth has some big decisions to make.

Debuts shine
Leeds can be very excited about Derrell Olpherts and Justin Sangare who both caused Wakefield endless problems with powerful runs and impressive offloads.

Day of the short kick off
It was the day of the short kick-off as both Leeds and Wakefield returned to this well. Both should be in a good position to use this and defend against it in the new year.

The Gannon experiment
It will be interesting to see what Rohan Smith makes of Morgan Gannon’s display in the halves today, he scored and looked a threat but didn’t always play like a generic half this may not be a bad thing however.

Rhinos captaincy
Much has been made over whether Kruise Leeming will keep the Leeds captaincy in 2023 after finishing last year starting on the bench as an impact sub. Based on Rohan Smith’s recent comments it seems he is unsure but Leeming did captain the side today.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
5 Ash Handley – 6
28 Max Simpson – 6
30 Levi Edwards – 6
16 Derrell Olpherts – 7
23 Liam Tindall – 7
20 Morgan Gannon – 6
1 Richie Myler – 7
18 Tom Holroyd – 6
9 Kruise Leeming – 7
22 Sam Walters – 6
33 Joe Gibbons – 6
19 James McDonnell – 7
25 James Donaldson – 6
Substitutes
14 Jarrod O’Connor – 6
17 Justin Sangare – 7
11 Tom Nicholson-Watton – 6
26 McKenzie Turner – 7
29 Alfie Edgell – 6
24 Leon Ruan – 7
10 Oli Field – 6
21 Jack Smith – 6

Wakefield Trinity
1 Max Jowitt – 7
18 Lee Kershaw – 7
4 Reece Lyne – 7
30 Oliver Pratt – 6
23 Lewis Murphy – 6
6 Lee Gaskell – 6
7 Mason Lino – 6
16 Josh Bowden – 6
20 Morgan Smith – 7
10 Jai Whitbread – 6
13 Jay Pitts – 7
11 Matty Ashurst – 7
14 Jordy Crowther – 7
Substitutes
24 Harry Bowes – 7
17 Renouf Atoni – 7
8 Eddie Battye – 7
25 Sam Eseh – 6
22 Rob Butler – 6
26 Dane Windrow – 6
29 Joe Law – 6
27 Rob Butterworth – 6

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