Wakefield saw off a spirited fight back from Leeds to maintain their 100% start to the season, and send the champions to a second successive defeat, in a pulsating affair at the Hearwell Stadium.
The Wildcats set their stall out early on, trapping Scott Donald in-goal in only the second set of the game, putting Leeds under pressure early, much in the same vain as Castleford did to the Rhinos last week.
They eventually breached the Leeds line after Luke George mopped up a neat Kevin Sinfield chip on his own 20 metre line. From there, Wakefield rolled down field where new prop Shane Tronc offloaded with three men in attention to Danny Brough, who after outpacing the Leeds defence, gave Sean Gleeson the easiest of finishes under the posts. Brough duly converted from in front of the posts.
The Wildcats were given another golden opportunity when Leeds’ lack of discipline gave them some valuable field possession deep inside the Leeds half. As the set unfolded, Wakefield worked an overlap on the left edge of the Leeds defence, only for Tevita Leo-Latu to lose the ball with the line at his mercy.
Much like their defeat against Castleford, Leeds were struggling to break down their opponents’ defensive line. However, they started to get into the game, with a trademark Keith Senior hand-off putting him through the Wakefield line, before he passed on to Rob Burrow who was hauled down by Brough only yards away from the try line.
Brough added a penalty to extend Wakefield’s lead to eight after more ill-discipline from the champions, this time Danny Buderus being caught offside.
Wakefield finally made some pressure tell when second-row Glenn Morrison worked a neat loop with his former Bradford team-mate Ben Jeffries, with Jeffries squeezing through the Rhinos’ defence, and Brough converting the try.
From nowhere Leeds somehow find a way back into the game, despite Wakefield’s dominance, when substitute Ian Kirke shipped the ball out in the tackle to Danny McGuire in support, before jinking his way through under the posts. Sinfield had the simplest of tasks in adding the extras.
The half ended with more poor discipline from the Rhinos, and Brough capitalised kicking the resulting penalty from just inside the Leeds half.
The Rhinos began the second half with the words of Brian McCLennan obviously ringing in their ears and rolled down field on the first set, before forcing an error from full back Aaron Murphy, only 10 metres out. From the scrum they quickly shipped the ball out to Senior, only for Brough to intercept and outpace Ryan Hall to the corner to score. After drawing breath, the outstanding Brough improved his own try from just inside the touchline.
Things went bad to worse for the Rhinos, when referee James Child finally lost patience with their constant ill-discipline, Sinfield being shown the yellow card for back chatting to the referee.
Wakefield kept the scoreboard running when a huge cross-field kick from Brough found centre Millard in the corner, who dropped over the try line to add yet another try to their tally. Brough’s kicking was again faultless, converting from the touchline once more.
The Leeds side looked to be as good as beaten but managed to find a way back into the game, when Greg Eastwood drew five Wildcats defenders into the tackle. McGuire spotted the numbers on the right hand side and Scott Donald touched down in the corner. Stand in kicker Rob Burrow added the extras.
With their talismanic captain back on the field and some new-found confidence, they looked a totally different side and scored another try straight away. Brent Webb got the Rhinos rolling down the field, making valuable metres from their own try line. Some slick hands down their left edge put Leeds to within 20 metres of the Wakefield line and after the ball was again shifted to the right wing, Donald shook off the attentions of Jason Demetriou to squeeze in the corner. Sinfield converted from the touchline and the champions now trailed by eight.
But despite throwing everything at the Wildcats, the champions couldn’t break them down, and after conceding another penalty, Brough edged Wakefield ten points clear as they recorded a superb win.