posted on 26 December 2011

Leeds Rhinos claimed the 2011 Heatshot Festive Challenge in a competitive clash at Headingley Carnegie.

Andy Ellis crossed for the opening try of the game

Andy Ellis and Dean Collis both crossed the whitewash in either half in what was a display with plenty of signs of encouragement for 2012.

But ultimately Leeds’ more established players came to the fore with tries for Chris Clarkson, Zak Hardaker, Rob Burrow, Kallum Watkins and Liam Hood.

Richard Agar had no fewer than ten debutants in his starting thirteen with Oliver Wilkes playing his first game in his second spell, with youngsters Dale Morton and Kyle Trout making up the rest of the starting line-up.

Leeds included Lee Smith, Rob Burrow, Paul McShane, Ian Kirke and Weller Hauraki in their strong side with former Wildcats Richard Moore, Darrell Griffin and Jay Pitts all in the squad.

It was a positive opening ten minutes for the Wildcats, keeping Leeds without the ball for the opening six of those and forcing consecutive drop-outs.  Ellis’ half-break and offload to Southern was the only real spark as Smith and John controlled things in the halves on the back of early dominance for Paul Johnson and Oliver Wilkes.

The Wildcats deservedly took the lead though on fifteen minutes through the former Harlequins hooker.  A charging run from Southern initially got Trinity on the front foot and after Smith’s grubber rebounded to allow a repeat set, Ellis burrowed towards the line from dummy half on tackle two and rolled over the line.

But Leeds showed the response of Champions, first utilising a strong wind to earn a drop-out from the restart and then by putting Morton under pressure with a high kick to the corner.  Ultimately though it was a short grubber kick from McShane at dummy half that spun away from Mathers and allowed Chris Clarkson to leap on the loose ball for the score.

There was plenty to be encouraged about for Agar in the opening thirty minutes, particularly the strong work done by Wilkes and Johnson, whilst youngster Trout showed just why the Head Coach has been singing his praises recently with an assured display in the second-row.

The Rhinos were earning more territory than they had in the opening quarter without causing the Wildcats defence too many problems as the half progressed, which made it all the more disappointing when following a strong Hardaker run, Hood was able to pick and go through a big gap at marker to get a close range try.

It was a score backed up by another moments later.  A typically teasing run across the face of the Wildcats defence from Rob Burrow sucked in the Wildcats and a shift to Hauraki and then Watkins gave the young centre forty metres of open space which he covered in seconds to get to the line.

Half-time was a welcome sight on the horizon for the Wildcats as the home sides more established stars began to take hold of the game.  Burrow was again involved in another menacing attack and although Cockayne stopped a certain score with a brave high tackle, the Wildcats had the loose grip of Luke Ambler to thank for no extra scores before the break.

Leeds looked the more incisive side after the interval but in the opening ten minutes it was the Wildcats who were seeing more of the ball in opposition territory.  Kyle Wood looked busy at hooker with Frankie Mariano and Vince Mellars both making half-breaks.

The breakthrough finally came twelve minutes into the second period as the overlap was worked on the right and Collis showed pace and strength to get in at the corner.

As with the first score of the game, Leeds took little time in striking back.  After Morton had brilliantly diffused a Burrow bomb it was slick handling down the left that set Watkins racing clear and the centre had the diminutive scrum-half typically in support to race in.

Unsurprisingly errors began to creep into both sides and the final fifteen minutes was a more scrappy affair with both coaches ringing the interchanges as legs and minds began to tire.

Cockayne made a fifty metre break as he showed good signs on his debut, carrying the ball with his customary vigour.

A Lucas Walshaw break with support either side should have resulted in a Wildcats score but he went alone only to be tackled before the Rhinos left edge again reaped rewards for the hosts with Hardaker the greatful recipient of the final score of the game.


Lee Smith, Kimmy Watson, Kallum Watkins, Zak Hardaker, James Chisholm, Stevie Ward, Rob Burrow, Darrell Griffin, Paul McShane, Ian Kirke, Jay Pitts, Weller Hauraki, Chris Clarkson. Replacements: Richard Moore, Liam Hood, Brad Singleton, Jared Stewart, Luke Ambler, Daniel Smith.


Richard Mathers, Dale Morton, Dean Collis, Vince Mellars, Ben Cockayne, Isaac John, Tim Smith, Oliver Wilkes, Andy Ellis, Paul Johnson, Andy Raleigh, Kyle Trout, Steve Southen. Replacements: Kyle Wood, Kyle Amor, Frankie Mariano, Matt Wildie, Matt James, Lucas Walshaw.

This is Wakefield. Together We Are Stronger.

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