Leeds 38-4 Widnes | Super League match report

Leeds Rhinos 38-4 Widnes Vikings

It is five years since Leeds finished top of the Super League table, and here was further evidence of the determination of the renowned play-off specialists to right that particular wrong this season. They were often dazzling in dismantling a Widnes team who came into the game with a 100% record, but it was their steel in defence that sent out the clearest message.

The Rhinos have now conceded only 46 points in winning four and drawing one of their first five matches, comfortably the meanest record in the competition. They remain a league point behind St Helens, who maintained their 100% start with a 40-22 victory over the still-winless Catalans. But Leeds will have their trip to Saints on Friday week for an early-season blockbuster ringed in the diary.

Leeds had a strong wind at their backs in the first half, and the Widnes half-backs took a while to come to terms with kicking into it. Those problems led directly to two tries in the space of six minutes for Ben Jones-Bishop, the former London Broncos wing who was handed his first appearance of the season by the Rhinos coach, Brian McDermott, with the England internatonal Ryan Hall taking a rest.

Jones-Bishop had the treat of playing outside Kallum Watkins whose cultured centre play created the space for his first, although it still took some finishing. The second was laid on by quick hands from the full-back, Zak Hardaker, and Kevin Sinfield used the wind to curl over a touchline conversion for a 10-0 lead.

Widnes dominated the remainder of the first half even playing into the wind, but Rhys Hanbury fumbled their only real chance when he lost the ball in a typically committed piece of Leeds cover defence.

It was a similar story after the break as the Vikings camped for long periods in the Leeds half, but could not break through. In contrast, Leeds posed a constant threat even from unlikely sources – it was no surprise when Watkins sidestepped over for a neat individual try but the interchange prop Ryan Bailey then showed a startling turn of pace to gallop over from 30 metres.

Sinfield, Rob Burrow and Jamie Jones-Buchanan added further tries as Widnes faded disappointingly, not helped by the loss of their major close-season signing Danny Tickle with a knee injury, before Rhys Hanbury finally broke Widnes's duck with five minutes remaining.

In the night's other games Wigan came from behind to beat Hull KR 34-20, and Warrington inflicted a third straight defeat on Brian Noble's injury-hit Salford.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Jones-Bishop; Sinfield (capt), McGuire; K Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Ablett, Ward, Delaney. Interchange: Aiton, Jones-Buchanan, Bailey, Achurch. Tries Jones-Bishop 2, Watkins, Bailey, Sinfield, Burrow, Jones-Buchanan Goals Sinfield 5

Widnes Vikings: Hanbury; Flynn, Phelps, Dean, Owens; Brown (capt), Mellor; Gerrard, Clarke, Clough, Galea, Tickle, M Leuluai. Interchange: Kavanagh, White, Isa, Lloyd. Try Hanbury

Referee: R Hicks © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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