However, it could have been very different, as Hull were able to match Leeds’ scores for much of the opening half. Leeds were not at their best to begin with, and only with Carl Ablett’s try just before the half time hooter did they open up breathing space, which allowed them to play more expansive rugby after the break.
Although a depleted Hull were up against a good side, this game showed just how important making errors and giving away penalties can be. Nearly every try that was conceded was on the back of either a knock-on or a penalty. Hull’s weak defence on the fringes could not contain the impressive Leeds side when they had either good field position or repeated sets.
Both sides started the game conservatively, with the blustery conditions encouraging caution. On the back of a penalty, Leeds were the first to score, with good second-man play and use of dummy runners allowing Jamie Peacock, Danny McGuire and Kevin Sinfield to combine for Lee Smith to score in the corner. Poor Hull defence on the flanks would come to undermine their hard work up the middle time and time again.
An unorganised looking Hull side were able to take the lead shortly after, however. Strong running by Jamie Thackray and some impressive offloads was allowing Hull to make good yardage up the middle of the pitch. After a Leeds’ error on half way, a mix up on the last tackle led to Radford unexpectedly finding himself with the ball. Putting up a high bomb, Whiting was able to out-jump his opposition number to score out wide. The successful conversion put Hull in the lead for the only time in the game.
Shortly afterwards, a good break by Donald on a kick return and a subsequent penalty put Hull on the back foot. McGuire made full advantage of the dominant field position, with a disguised face pass to Keith Senior near the Hull line allowing him to score his first of the night.
A below par performance by Chris Thorman was highlighted for the next Leeds’s try. Yet another Hull penalty led to Leeds having field position on the Hull line. The pursuing Webb, out-pacing Thorman to the ball, fielded a good chip kick over the line by McGuire.
Hull were again able to score from a kick on the back of a Leeds’ error in their own half. This time Richard Horne’s perfect weighted grubber kick allowed Kirk Yeamen to impressively gather and score all in the same movement. This late try just before half time had kept Hull in the match. However, as Hull tried an attacking kick deep in their own half with only twenty seconds remaining, Ablett was able to cross from 30 metres out.
Hull, however, started the second half impressively. In their first set they were able to force a goal line drop out. But Sam Moa dropped the ensuing drop out and Leeds were able to score from the scrum. Sinfield drew two men towards him, and Smith raced to the try-line after a short pass had put him through a gaping hole.
After this, the game looked beyond Hull. After a careful start, they began to make more and more errors, turning over possession to a Leeds side playing with more flair in attack and a sturdier defence. From another scrum on the half way line, Leeds this time worked down the blind-side, with strong running by Senior drawing two men before Ryan Hall finished down the wing. Despite protests by Mark Calderwood, the try was given.
After two consecutive penalties conceded by Leeds, Horne popped up a short ball at the line to allow Radford to cross from short range. However, the fight back was never on, and Leeds finished the game the strongest.
A second man play by Ryan Bailey, followed by a long ball by McGuire, put Senior in for his second. With impressive ball handling by the Leeds props leading to two of their tries, it showed just what an offensive threat this side is. Sinfield concluded the scoring by stealing one for himself just before full time, stripping the ball and racing 35 metres to the try line.