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Friday, 18 April 2014

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Enterprising Haven stun Rhinos

HAVEN produced a scintillating second-half to defeat a Rhinos team that included six first-team squad members.

Two minutes after the break and 32-12 down, it appeared the second stanza would be a damage limitation exercise for the hosts.

But, inspired by Carl Rudd, and with Scott McAvoy hard to handle, they produced fast-flowing rugby that had the crowd in raptures.

It might have been ‘only’ a friendly, but with the Leeds hierarchy watching on, the visitors will have been keen to impress.

They had no answer however to some of the most attractive rugby Haven have produced over recent seasons.

After a promising opening 10 minutes, Haven looked laboured in the first-half in the face of a well-drilled Rhinos side.

But it was a different story after the break. Led up front by Luke Isakka and Dave Houghton, Haven looked to spread the ball wide at every opportunity, and their enterprising style paid off against a lighter Leeds team.

The Cumbrians almost took the lead in the fifth minute when hooker Sam Gee was held up over the Leeds line, Haven gaining possession following Isakka’s tackle on centre Jack Pring.

Classy offloads from Ben Karalius and Jonny Youds later led to Lee Doran also being held up.

But Haven kept possession, and after the ball had gone to ground, Karalius’s kick to the corner was fumbled by a defender and winger Chris Fleming touched down, Rudd converting.

The good work was undone on the next set after Youds spilled the re-start. Scrum-half Ollie Olds did well to bounce back up after a heavy Andrew Beattie tackle, and he did even better later in the set to float a great long pass for winger James Duckworth to cross in the corner.

It was easy to see why some were heralding Leeds stand-off Stevie Ward as the next Kevin Sinfield as he was controlling the game.

And the classy youngster set up his side’s next try with clever footwork, putting sub Matthew Nicholson between the sticks on 21 minutes.

Three minutes later Ward squeezed between two defenders to add to the lead, and on 28 minutes centre Jake Normington intercepted Karalius’s pass to score, Sean Casey slotting his third conversion.

Scott McAvoy halted the one-way traffic on 33 minutes, notching an outstanding individual try.

He beat several defenders as he cut inside and then had the power to barge over in heavy traffic, Rudd converting.

Haven looked to finish the half strongly, only for Matthew Haggerty to fumble in a tackle and Duckworth to score his second. Olds’ conversion made it 28-12 at the break.

There looked to be no way back for Haven after Danny Bravo went through the usually-reliable Beattie to score within two minutes of the re-start.

But they had not banked on Rudd. He launched the fight-back when held up over the Rhinos’ line, and moments later, great hands along the line led to Loz Hamzat flashing in at the corner, Rudd adding a touchline conversion.

Beattie’s big hit then dispossessed Tring and Haven made good ground, led by McAvoy.

Rudd’s inch-perfect lob to the corner was collected by Max Wiper who touched down virtually unimpeded.

For good measure, Rudd goaled from another tight angle and Haven were suddenly only eight points adrift.

Bradd Crellin was on hand to take a charging Lee Doran’s pass to score next to the posts on the hour mark. The kick was a formality for Rudd and on 67 minutes the hosts hit the front. McAvoy seized on a loose Leeds pass 10 metres from their line, and following more great team play, Andreas Bauer crossed out wide.

Karalius and Rudd both produced fantastic long kicks deep in to Leeds territory in the closing moments, and McAvoy broke 30 metres from a scrum to again put the visitors on the back foot.

The Rhinos had one last throw of the dice in the closing seconds, Ward cutting loose down the middle from his own territory. But the kick for his wide men to chase sailed directly in to touch.

The only disappointment of the afternoon for Haven was the attendance of 855. But if they continue to play in this style, those missing fans should soon be flocking back to the Recre.

Match facts

Haven: Youds, Hamzat, McAvoy, Bauer, Fleming, Rudd, Karalius, Houghton, Gee, Isakka, Barker, Doran, Beattie. Subs: Sice, Haggerty, Crellin, Wiper, O’Neill, Smith.

Tries: Fleming, McAvoy, Hamzat, Wiper, Crellin, Bauer.

Goals: Rudd 5.

Leeds: Watson, Jones-Bishop, Pring, Normington, Duckworth, Ward, Olds, Ambler, Casey, Smith, Stott, Pitts, Singleton. Subs: Quinlan, Syron, Bravo, Nicholson, Leary.

Tries: Duckworth 2, Nicholson, Ward, Normington, Bravo.

Goals: Casey 3, Olds 1.

Referee: Gareth Hewer.

Attendance: 855.

Star Man: Carl Rudd.

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