Sam Lisone delivered a remarkable hat trick, propelling Leeds Rhinos to a crucial 28-12 victory over Hull FC at the MKM Stadium, as the Rhinos maintained their pursuit of a Play-Offs spot.
The Samoan international notched his debut tries for the club across both halves, securing two in the first and the final score to seal the win. David Fusitu’a and Luke Hooley also crossed the try line, securing the two vital points.
With injuries sidelining Aidan Sezer and Ash Handley during the week, Jack Sinfield made his return to the squad for his third appearance of the season. David Fusitu’a and James McDonnell were brought in to replace Handley and James Bentley, who suffered an injury against Huddersfield, marking the only other changes to the Rhinos’ lineup.
Former Leeds player Liam Sutcliffe celebrated his 250th career appearance against his former team.
The young Rhinos side stumbled in the early stages, offering Hull early encouragement. After exerting pressure on the Leeds defense, a wide move seemed destined for a certain score for the black and whites, until Andre Savelio delivered an errant pass that sailed out of play.
Leeds capitalised on the pressure from Hull to notch the opening try of the game. James McDonnell exploited a gap in the Hull defence, finding himself one-on-one with full-back Jamie Shaul. Although the forward’s kick ahead appeared to be heading out of play, Hooley chased relentlessly to reach it first and score a remarkable try.
Fusitu’a’s break turned the tide on another Hull attack, and shortly thereafter, a late foul on Hooley off the ball led Rhyse Martin to opt for a penalty goal, extending the away side’s lead to 6-0.
Hull responded as Adam Swift twisted over the line following build-up play from Clifford and Shaun Lane. Hull continued to exert pressure on the Leeds line but found no reward as they fell behind to two Sam Lisone tries.
Lisone, having just entered the field, was thrust into action and found himself on the receiving end of a pass from James Donaldson, allowing the forward to secure his first try as a Rhino.
As the first half drew to a close, the forward celebrated once again as Leeds established an 18-4 lead at halftime. Cam Scott couldn’t hold onto Sinfield’s high kick, and following the scrum, Lisone found himself on the receiving end of a shift to the left, taking three defenders with him over the try line. Martin successfully converted both tries, giving the Rhinos a 14-point lead at halftime.
The second half began with Leeds celebrating once more as Scott Taylor lost the ball after receiving the restart. Cam Smith reacted swiftly, picking up the loose ball and feeding Sinfield, but the young player was held up. Newman, Roberts, and Walters all had drives thwarted before a quick play down the short side allowed McDonnell to produce an impressive offload, enabling Fusitu’a to score acrobatically in the corner.
Despite their strong start, the Rhinos faced adversity as Hull FC scored consecutive tries, narrowing the scoreline. Harvey Barron finished in the corner, offering Hull hope in the second half, and Cam Scott reacted swiftly to a deflected pass from Tex Hoy, reducing the deficit to 22-12 with 15 minutes remaining.
Hull continued to apply pressure on the Leeds line as the game entered its final ten minutes. After successfully defending against Tony Smith’s side for a full set of six, Hoy appeared to set up Savelio, but the back-rower couldn’t maintain possession.
The man of the match, Lisone, had the final say with his hat trick try. Newman executed a dangerous cut back towards the centre of the field, managing to sneak an offload to Martin. The PNG international had open space ahead of him, making a half break, and Lisone was there in support to receive the ball and celebrate in front of the travelling fans. Martin’s conversion sealed the 28-12 win, marking Rohan Smith’s side’s eleventh victory of the year.