Leeds 34-16 Hull KR

Kallum Watkins scored a hat-trick of tries as reigning champions Leeds Rhinos beat Hull KR 34-16.

But Rovers, missing captain Ben Galea and key man Blake Green, pushed their hosts all the way and at one stage led 12-10.

Brett Delaney scored the Rhinos opening try on five minutes but Graeme Horne replied with a debut try to level the scores.

Fullback Brent Webb crossed to put Grand Final winners back in front but Horne grabbed his second of the game, although Michael Dobson‘s missed conversion meant Rovers trailed by two points at the interval.

Rovers silenced the Headingley crowd when Kris Welham took advantage of some slack defence to put the visitors in front early in the second period.

But two tries in five minutes from 20-year-old centre Watkins swung the game the Rhinos way.

Danny McGuire created the youngster’s first try before Watkins linked with Carl Ablett and raced away for his second.

Rovers reduced the deficit with a try from David Hodgson but Watkins completed his hat-trick from close range.

McGuire stepped past a tiring defence to complete the scoring and seal the win for the Rhinos.

Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield, making his 400th appearance for the club, finished the game with five conversions.

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