Leeds recorded their first win of the season after a resounding victory over still win-less Wakefield at the Be Well Support Stadium.
Ash Handley claimed a hat-trick, while David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman and Morgan Gannon also got on the scoresheet for the Rhinos. Most of the damage was done in the first half.
Matty Ashurst pulled one back for Wakefield, but they are still looking for their first win of the season four games in. Max Jowitt and Tom Johnstone also added late efforts.
Leeds were able to open the scoring with just over three minutes gone. Harry Newman got the ball out to David Fusitu’a out wide, who barged over in the corner. Rhyse Martin marked his return to the Rhinos with the first conversion of the night.
Things got better for Leeds when they doubled their lead with just eight minutes on the clock. Ash Handley got free down the left-hand side, and freed Liam Sutcliffe, who then put Morgan Gannon over for his first try of the season. Martin added the conversion.
It was soon 16 points inside 15 minutes for the Rhinos. Aidan Sezer dropped the shoulder and got the ball out to Harry Newman, who got the ball down at the second attempt. Martin was off-target with the conversion attempt this time.
Martin would soon get the chance to redeem himself, as he slotted a penalty over four minutes later after Wakefield were caught offside.
Leeds claimed their fourth try of the match on the half-hour. Sutcliffe claimed a kick in the air from Blake Austin, and was able to put Handley over for the try. Martin added the conversion attempt.
It got even worse for Wakefield just before the break. Handley was able to cut inside and claim his second try of the night under the posts. Martin ended the first half with a conversion to get Leeds up to 30 points.
HT- Wakefield 0-30 Leeds
Wakefield needed to respond first in the second half, and they did just past the 10 minute mark. The ball came free after a kick in the air, and James Batchelor was able to offload to Matty Ashurst, who went over for the try. Max Jowitt’s conversion attempt went in off the post.
However, just past the hour, Leeds claimed another try to re-assert their dominance. They worked the ball well out to the left-hand side, and Handley was able to finish in the corner, despite two Wakefield defenders coming across to him. Martin’s conversion attempt just drifted wide.
The Rhinos would get a blot on their copy book a few minutes later. Kruise Leeming was sent to the sin bin for a “reckless” high tackle on Harry Bowes.
Despite not making that count, Wakefield would get the last word. Liam Kay kicked forward towards the post, and Jowitt got there first to score. He would then convert his own try.
Wakefield got another back with the last play of the game as well. Tom Johnstone took in a cut-out pass and cut inside to score towards the posts. Jowitt scored the conversion to complete the game.
The Rhinos will hope to back this up when they welcome Hull FC next Thursday. Meanwhile, Wakefield will hope to break their duck when they welcome Toulouse next Friday.
Wakefield: Jowitt, Murphy, Pitts, Batchelor, Johnstone, Miller, Lino, Arona, Bowes, Whitbread, Ashurst, Tanginoa, Crowther. Subs: Kay, Fifita, Battye, Aydin.
T: Ashurst, Jowitt, Johnstone
G: Jowitt 3/3
Leeds: Walker, Fusitu’a, Newman, Sutcliffe, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Leeming, Prior, Martin, Gannon, Tetevano. Subs: Smith, Dwyer, Thompson, Briscoe.
T: Fusitu’a, Gannon, Newman, Handley (3)
G: Martin 5/7
Returning faces do the job for Leeds
Leeds welcomed back David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman and Rhyse Martin back into their team for this match. All three of them certainly played their part in what was a welcome victory for Leeds. Although, there could be some concern for Harry Newman, who went off with a dead leg in the second half.
Handley hat-trick hero
In the week when Handley missed out on England’s train-on squad, Handley scored a hat-trick which showed off his attacking threat. He showed strength for the first try, good feet for the second, and great finishing for the third.
Mikolaj Oledzki announced in the week he was going to put his match-worn shirt from this match up for auction to raise money for Ukraine. The Poland-born forward wore a Ukraine flag on his jersey, and would be auctioned on Ebay after the match and raise money for the British Red Cross Ukraine Crisis Appeal.