In scorching conditions at the Be Well Support Stadium, the Leeds Rhinos were defeated 24-14 by Wakefield Trinity in round 15 of the Betfred Super League.
Despite their best efforts, the Rhinos were unable to maintain their lead as Trinity staged a late comeback, scoring ten crucial points in the final twenty minutes of the match.
The game marked a memorable moment for debutant Leon Ruan, who made his Super League debut under the guidance of coach Rohan Smith. Ruan, a young forward, was brought on from the bench and impressed with his performance. Meanwhile, Derrell Olpherts was excluded from the squad to make way for Liam Tindall, who started alongside Rhyse Martin. Ash Handley continued to hold the full-back position for the Rhinos.
Leeds showed early promise, with Mikolaj Oledzki and Blake Austin displaying signs of potential scoring opportunities. However, their momentum was halted as Wakefield swiftly notched two tries within the opening 20 minutes of the game.
The first try for Wakefield came as they started their set near the Leeds line, taking advantage of the Rhinos’ unsuccessful attacking attempt. Trinity’s Kevin Proctor and Eddie Battye advanced their team closer to the try line, setting the stage for Morgan Smith’s wide kick. Lee Kershaw batted the ball back, enabling Jack Croft to secure the opening try.
Minutes later, Romain Franco extended Wakefield’s lead with a well-executed play. Leeds had a chance to retaliate through Nene Macdonald but unfortunately failed to capitalise on the opportunity. Taking advantage of this, Wakefield swiftly manoeuvred the ball to Franco, who found space to touch down, bringing the score to 10-0 in Wakefield’s favour.
Debutant Leon Ruan provided a glimmer of hope for the Rhinos just before halftime with a crucial try. Substituting Macdonald, who left the field for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), Ruan capitalised on an opportune moment, receiving Myler’s pass and expertly hitting a gap to level the score. However, Martin’s conversion attempt went wide, resulting in the teams heading into halftime at a 10-all tie.
The second half kicked off with high drama as Wakefield quickly turned the ball over when Martin failed to secure the restart. The intensity escalated further when Hugo Salabio received a red card for a dangerous tackle on Myler.
Seizing the opportunity, Leeds sought to take control of the game. However, Will Dagger’s penalty goal provided Wakefield with breathing space despite having twelve men on the field. Nonetheless, Blake Austin responded with an impressive solo effort, slicing through the Wakefield defence and fending off full-back Jowitt to bring the score to 14-12 in favour of the Rhinos.
A second penalty goal from Dagger, due to Leeds being caught offside, levelled the score once again. Mark Applegarth’s side wasted no time in capitalizing on their momentum. Matty Ashurst seized the advantage when Handley was sin-binned for a professional foul, extending Wakefield’s lead to 18-14. Morgan Smith widened the gap to ten points by outmanoeuvring Myler in the air and scoring.
The Rhinos valiantly attempted to rally in the sweltering heat, but the full-time whistle brought an end to proceedings, with the final score settling at 24-14 in favour of Wakefield Trinity.