Four tries from Kallum Watkins helped Leeds Rhinos bounce back from last weeks defeat to St Helens with a dominant second half performance to overcome Wakefield Wildcats at the Rapid Solicitors stadium.
In the glorious sunshine it was the Wildcats who dominated the opening half, but despite forcing at least 5 drop outs they only had Greg Johnson‘s try as reward for their endeavours. Leeds’ resolute defending and Wakefield’s lack of creative spark ensured that it was a very close half of rugby, albeit marred by plenty of handling errors and even more penalties given by whistle happy referee James Childs, who also sin-bnned Leeds Prop Luke Burgess for persistent infringements after 28 minutes.
Coach Brian McDermott must have read his team the riot act at half time as Leeds stepped up a gear almost immediately. Back to back penalties straight from the second half kick off gave Leeds good field position, and Kallum Watkins gathered Kevin Sinfields pinpoint kick on the last tackle to level the scores.
Wakefield edged back in from with a Josh Griffin penalty but this was to be their last score of the afternoon as the hosts tired and Leeds gained control from here on in. Watkins caught another Sinfield cross field and strolled over the line and under the posts unopposed to give Leeds the lead for the first time in the game with 20 minutes to go.
Leeds went straight on the attack again as Ryan Hall raced 80 yards from the kick off, and with the scrambling Wakefield defence all at sea Rob Borrow floated a long pass out to the right, where Watkins was on hand to complete his hat trick with a sublime finish by the corner flag and Leeds were now firmly in control.
Sinfield kicked a further penalty before an excellent ‘flick pass’ offload from the Leeds captain put Danny Buderus in under the posts to put the game to bed, and a final flourish from Kallum Watkins gave the young winger his fourth try of the game and Sinfield kicked the extras from the touchline to make the final score 6-28.
A healthy crowd of 8,763 was on hand to enjoy the first real Summer Rugby League of 2011, and they witnessed an ultimately comfortable Leeds victory in which Kallum Watkins was a vastly improved Man of the Match, although Wakefield fans can take heart from a good first half performance in which young English centre Chris Dean excelled, however fans of both clubs will hope for improvements next week away to Huddersfield (Wakefield) and at home to Wigan (Leeds) respectively.
Wakefield: Murphy, G. Johnson, Griffin, Dean, George, Jeffries, Lee, Korkidas, Rinaldi, P. Johnson, Mariano, Morrison, Howarth.
Subs: Veivers, Wildie, Amor, Henderson.
Leeds: Webb, Watkins, Ablett, Senior, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Bailey, Clarkson, Hauraki, Jones-Buchanan.
Subs: Pitts, McShane, Cross, Burgess.
Wakefield Try: Johnson.
Goal: Griffin (1/2).
Leeds Tries: Watkins (4), Buderus.
Goals: Sinfield (4/6).
Leeds Sin Bin: Burgess (28mins, persistent infringement).
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury)