Leeds Rhinos were left devastated for the second time this year as they lost out to Hull KR in a thrilling 19-18 match that went into Golden Point extra time. Despite a valiant effort to come back from an 18-6 deficit, the Rhinos fell short due to unforced errors early in the extra time. Hull KR’s debutant Brad Schneider emerged as the hero, kicking the crucial winning goal on his second attempt.
The Rhinos were boosted by the return of Blake Austin and Justin Sangare, who had served a one-match suspension and recovered from a foot injury, respectively. Ash Handley marked his 200th career appearance on the wing, while the rest of the squad remained unchanged. Hull KR, on the other hand, boasted several former Leeds players in their ranks, including Ryan Hall, Matt Parcell, and Jimmy Keinhorst. Schneider made his debut alongside Rowan Milnes in the halves.
The game started on a sour note for the Rhinos as the Robins opened the scoring within the first ten minutes. Camping themselves near the Leeds line, a cut back off the wing by Shaun Kenny-Dowall was anticipated by debutant Schneider, who had only one Leeds defender to beat before grounding the ball.
Fortunately, the Rhinos quickly retaliated with a try from hooker Jarrod O’Connor. Tom Holroyd replaced Mikolaj Oledzki, who had gone off for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), and his powerful run towards the posts set up Leeds for the score. O’Connor seized the opportunity, diving out of dummy half to level the game.
However, Hull KR swiftly responded with a try from Tom Opacic, who capitalised on a kick through from Schneider, securing his eighth try of the season. Milnes successfully converted the try, giving the Robins a 12-6 lead after 19 minutes.
Despite the Robins’ persistent pressure, a drive from Rhys Kennedy resulted in a reprieve for the home side as he was penalised for obstruction. Leeds had their own chance to score when Oledzki made a half break and almost offloaded to O’Connor, but the try scorer couldn’t maintain possession under pressure from Ethan Ryan.
With halftime approaching, Louis Senior widened Hull KR’s lead with a try. The possession had been evenly contested, with neither team coming close to scoring. In a play initiated by Schneider, Ryan and Opacic swiftly shifted the ball wide to Senior, who scored in the corner. However, just before the break, Nene Macdonald broke free and passed inside to Corey Johnson, allowing him to score his first try for Leeds. Rhyse Martin’s successful conversion surpassed 1,000 career points and closed the scoreline to 12-16.
Milnes extended Hull KR’s lead to six with a penalty goal for a head high tackle on Ryan, but the second half unleashed a flurry of action and drama.
Throughout most of the second half, the Rhinos dominated possession in Hull KR’s half, sparked by a Handley interception that saw him sprint into opposition territory. Finally, after three consecutive sets on the Robins’ line, Handley marked his 100th Super League try in spectacular fashion. The winger connected with a Sezer kick behind the defensive line and successfully grounded the ball.
Tensions escalated in the remaining minutes of the half, with Martin coming close to securing victory for Leeds but being ruled held up. Sezer missed a crucial opportunity as he fumbled a pass from Oledzki, leaving the game tied at 18-18 when Justin Sangare played the ball under the posts but a knock-on was spotted by the referee, effectively ending the second half.
As the game entered Golden Point extra time, the Rhinos suffered a severe setback when Sangare’s knock-on nearly resulted in Schneider kicking a drop goal, but it rebounded off the underside of the crossbar. Moments later, a knock-on by Fusitu’a proved fatal for the Rhinos as Schneider successfully kicked the deciding goal, ending the game 19-18 in favour of Hull KR.