A Scott Donald try in the closing minutes of a close-fought encounter gave Leeds Rhinos a narrow victory over Bradford Bulls, Leeds leapfrogging their derby rivals into engage Super League's top spot..
16,706 people packed into Grattan Stadium for the traditional Easter derby between the Bulls and the Rhinos.
The players did not disappoint the expectant crowd, and showed great offloading abilities and speed around the field.
The electric atmosphere created by both sets of supporters was clearly getting to the players in the early minutes, as the ball found the ground on more than one occasion. Adding to that referee Ganson was whistle happy in an attempt to stamp his authority.
Bradford bossed the early exchanges, and were causing the fragile Leeds defence some problems. Senior was guilty of interfering at the play the ball, allowing Deacon to kick Bradford into a two point lead.
Just a couple of minutes later, Bradford broke through the leeds ranks again. Harris looked likely to score the first try of the game but NZ international Brent Webb was there to hault the jinking run. Ganson ruled the tackle to be high, thus allowing Deacon another chance to kick at goal. Deacon didn't miss giving the Bulls a 4-0 lead after ten minutes.
The game turned on its head in the next passage of play, as quick Leeds footwork started to find holes in the Bradford defence.
On the twelth minute Leeds shipped the ball to the left thus giving Scott Donald the space to go over in the corner despite attention from Marcus St Hilliare. Sinfield was off target with the conversion.
Brent Webb showed more indiscipline as he was found guilty of a high tackle on Evans. Referee Steve Ganson had had enough and sent Webb to the sin bin.
Bradford took advantage of the one man advantage, as David Solomona produced a fantastic offload, Morrison used his all of his skills to draw Senior allowing St Hilliare to dive over the whitewash. Deacon missed the conversion keeping the scores at 8-6.
Neither side were able to break defence in the last 10 minutes of the half, but Deacon added a penalty on the stroke of half time, sending his team in at the break with a 10-6 advantage.
Just inside the second half, Bradford bombed another try this time Vainikolo knocking on from a inside pass by Jamie Langley.
Bradford continued the fantastic offloads, especially David Solomona who was proving a real handful. This allowed Bradford great field position, and they shifted the ball to their left and nobody was going to stop Vainikolo from five metres out. Deacon failed to add the two, 14-6 the score.
A Bradford mistake allowed Leeds to camp down near the Bulls line, but this time it was Leeds' turn to bomb a try. Danny McGuire passed the ball inside to Brent Webb, but the Kiwi couldn't hold on to the ball, with the line in his sights.
It was end to end stuff, with both teams looking dangerous with ball in hand. Langley showed great skill pinching the ball off Jones-Buchannan in a one on one tackle.
Vainikolo was again involved in play, tackling young Ashley Gibson into touch giving Bradford fantastic field position once more. Solomona was denied a try by Brent Webb with a delightful kick through. Bradford got a repeat set, but the Rhinos defence was upto the task and Bradford failed to capitalise.
A wonderful Rob Burrow kick trapped Marcus St Hilaire in goal, giving them rare field position in the Bulls half. On the 64th minute, Sinfield dabbed a kick through behind the line, Ellis grounded the ball. The Video Ref again was called for to confirm the try, Sinfield added the extras closing the gap to 14-12 with just thirteen minutes remaining.
The fittness of both teams were showing, as the pace of the game did not drop, as both teams were climing on, providing fantastic entertianment.
On the 77th minute, Leeds looked to have pinched the victory, as McGuire made the break to send Scott Donald in for his second try of the game. Sinfield kicked the conversion, Leeds beating the Bulls by 18-14.
The Bulls failed to regather the ball from the kick off, Leeds made no mistake, and wrapped up a memorable victory for the Rhinos.