Leeds hand Crusaders opening defeat - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Leeds hand Crusaders opening defeat

07/02/2009 12:14:15 PM Comments (0)

Celtic Crusaders, packed with Australian imports, have been thumped 28-6 by champions Leeds in the opening Super League match of 2009 on Friday.

The Crusaders, trying to convert union-hardened Wales to rugby league, were 22-0 down at half-time at a freezing Leeds, before staging a brave, second-half rearguard action.

"We played for 80 minutes," said Crusaders' Australian coach John Dixon.

"The scoreline had the potential to skip away from us but it didn't and that's credit to the players.

"I thought it was pretty encouraging. They can look each other in the eye and said we had a go."

Leeds coach Brian McClennan praised the Super League newcomers.

"If I was Celtic, I wouldn't be too perturbed about losing. I think they will get better as they go along," he said.

Leeds were without seven players, including four internationals, while the Crusaders gave debuts to Matty Smith, Ryan O'Hara, Mark Bryant, Adam Peek and Peter Lupton.

Full-back Lee Smith had the distinction of scoring the first try of the 2009 Super League season, finishing off a break by veteran centre Keith Senior after nine minutes.

Scott Donald added a second try before the Crusaders' problems increased in the 20th minute when full-back Tony Duggan's pass was intercepted by winger Ryan Hall who sprinted 30 metres to the line.

Crusaders' Darren Mapp had a try ruled out in the 32nd minute for obstruction before Leeds added a fourth try almost immediately through Smith.

Captain Kevin Sinfield, playing his first match since the group games of the World Cup in November, kicked three out of four conversions as Leeds led 22-0 at the break.

The Crusaders eventually got on the scoreboard 14 minutes into the second half when winger Luke Dyer raced on to a kick from skipper Jace van Dijk. Josh Hannay added the conversion to cut the deficit to 16 points.

However Leeds added a fifth score in injury time when Carl Ablett went over from close range.

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