Mellor sinks Leeds’ season

A late Joe Mellor drop goal has sealed a come from behind one-point victory for Widnes over Leeds at Headingley.

The Vikings fought back from a 12-point deficit in the second half to win 22-23 in dramatic circumstances.

The loss surely ends Leeds’ attempts at sneaking into the top eight.

The Rhinos started the game brightly. In the fifth minute Kallum Watkins crashed over off a short ball from Rob Burrow.

In the 12th minute Widnes should have pulled level but for a huge error from Joe Mellor.

The halfback did the hard work stepping the Leeds defence, but then slammed the ball down over the line, failing to ground it properly.

Corey Thompson didn’t have that problem three minutes later. Thompson was on the end of a backline movement and threw a huge dummy to slide over and score.

Rhys Hanbury couldn’t convert so Leeds were 6-4 in front.

In the 22nd minute the Rhinos went further ahead through a Ryan Hall try. Hall got there first to a cross-kick but Stefan Marsh inexplicably jumped and made no attempt to catch the ball.

This allowed Hall to score the easiest of tries.

Three minutes later they were in again, Joel Moon finishing off an 80 metre break. Leeds went side to side, using the space and Moon collected the stray offload to eventually touch down.

Widnes were behind 16-4 10 minutes before half-time.

But the Vikings got back in the game thanks to back-to-back penalties. Camped on Leeds’ line, Widnes eventually got over when Mellor stepped through the line of defence.

This time he made no mistake grounding the ball.

Danny McGuire burrowed over the line right before the break and seemed to have scored but couldn’t get the ball down.

The score remained at 16-10 at half-time.

The opening quarter of the second half descended into a series of errors and cheap penalties. Neither side managed to string any decent play together.

Leeds finally broke the deadlock in the 50th minute, Mitch Garbutt crashing over off a nice Jamie Jones-Buchanan pass.

Widnes went close four minutes later. Kevin Brown smashed through the line and kicked through to Thompson.

The Australian was pulled down inches from the line but the Vikings dropped the ball on the next tackle.

But Leeds coughed the ball up straight away and Widnes made them pay. Brown released Pat Ah Van with a beautiful cut-out pass and the winger scored.

A great kick from the sideline from Hanbury made it 22-16.

The Vikings quickly added another, Hanbury weaving in and out to score on a free play after a Luke Briscoe knock on. The Aussie then coverted his own try to make it 22-22.

Brett Ferres almost got the ball down with 14 minutes left but was millimetres short.

Leeds were mounting pressure on Widnes’ line but mistakes kept letting them down.

Brown missed a field goal attempt with four minutes left.

Tensions boiled over in the 77th minute as Keith Galloway and several Vikings got into some push and shove.

Both teams angled for a drop goal. Leeds were unlucky not be awarded a penalty right in front for infringements at the play the ball.

But it was Mellor who struck with just 90 seconds left, ending Leeds’ dream of the Super 8s.

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