Konrad Hurrell scored a hat-trick in vain as Leeds slumped to a 45-26 defeat at Hull KR.
The Robins blew the Rhinos away at a windy KCOM Craven Park in the first half, and they led 31-10 at the break which proved too big of a deficit for Dave Furner’s side to recover from.
It was a fourth win of the season for Hull KR, who got off to the perfect start when Tommy Lee wriggled his way over from dummy half inside three minutes.
Leeds legend Danny McGuire then touched down after Mose Masoe had been held up over the line, only for the ball to come free right at the stand-off’s feet.
They had a possible third try disallowed by the video referee but would lead 16-0 after 16 minutes after Will Oakes crossed in the corner.
Jack Walker put the subsequent kick-off out on the full, the first of four times he’d commit such an act on the night, and after a penalty boosted field position further, Craig Hall kicked a penalty from under the posts.
Leeds stopped the rot on 24 minutes, Brad Dwyer dummying his way through the line and then finding the supporting Hurrell on his left shoulder for the first of the Tongan’s four tries.
But it proved brief respite, ex-Rhinos front-rower Mitch Garbutt crashing over after the Rovers had forced a repeat set, and it was 30-6 when Junior Vaivai went over on the left.
Hurrell’s second try helped the Rhinos reach double figures, before McGuire ended the half with a drop goal for 31-10.
Leeds started the second half with renewed vigour, though it took 11 minutes for them to get anything from it, Brad Singleton taking Liam Sutcliffe’s offload to go over.
And it looked like game on when Hurrell raced 40 metres off a Tui Lolohea pass to move them within two scores at 31-22.
Hull KR settled their nerves with a penalty from bang in front, after Walker’s drop out had sailed out on the full, and that proved to be the end of Leeds’ resistance.
Josh Drinkwater dummied past a tiring Jamie-Jones Buchanan for a crucial score and though Hurrell scored his fourth try, Ben Crooks had the final say with a score on the hooter.
Line-ups & scorers
Hull KR: Hall, Vaivai, Crooks, Linnett, Oakes, McGuire, Drinkwater, Masoe, Lee, Mulhern, Tomkins, Hauraki, Lawler. Subs: Lunt, Keinhorst, Addy, Garbutt.
Tries: Lee, McGuire, Oakes, Vaivai, Drinkwater, Crooks. Goals: Hall 7. Drop Goal: McGuire
Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins, Hurrell, Handley, Sutcliffe, Lolohea, Peteru, Dwyer, Oledzki, Smith, Jones-Buchanan, Merrin. Subs: Albert, Cuthbertson, Donaldson, Singleton.
Tries: Hurrell 4, Singleton. Goals: Sutcliffe 3.
Three talking points
Hull KR looking up
Hull KR haven’t hit the heights this season yet they find themselves with four wins from 10 games, a decent return. They surely won’t be in the relegation picture come the end of the season, especially if they can win their home games. There will have been concerns that another lead was going to be thrown away, but they dug deep to secure the win, and they did so despite yet more injury woes.
After the dramatics of last week, it was a dour showing from Leeds, who without Konrad Hurrell may well have disappeared without trace in this one.
The big Tongan scored four good tries, and while his defensive work at times is suspect, he is currently one of few men in the Rhinos team that can hold their heads high right now.
David Furner eluded to it in his post-match comments, but the suspension of Richie Myler could hardly have come at a worse time for Leeds as they desperately search for some continuing to re-build.
While Hurrell is doing well, Tui Lolohea continues to underwhelm. Though perhaps a different expose to their recruitment came on the night, as Hull KR boasted six former Leeds players in their ranks.
With Danny McGuire rolling back the years, and Robbie Mulhern impressive as always up front, you could make a case that all six – those two plus Shaun Lunt, Jimmy Keinhorst, Weller Hauraki and Mitch Garbutt – could still get in that Leeds 17. The departure of Garbutt from Headingley at the back end of last season is a puzzler, as is the continued marginalisation of 2017 Dream Team hooker Matt Parcell.
More decent Thursday night fare live on Sky Sports, even if both side’s defence looked particularly weak.
Leeds clearly have work to do and perhaps had Myler been present, they may have looked more composed. But their first half performance was diabolical, and that takes nothing away from Hull KR.
For the Robins, their pack laid a great platform, and Craig Hall is a great broken play player, and they could have had a fair few more had a few bounces gone their way.