By PA Sport
Last Updated: 20/07/18 11:40pm
Kevin Sinfield won his first game since returning to Leeds as the ailing champions claimed a 34-0 victory over Widnes to end a nine-match winless streak and condemn the bottom side to a 15th straight Super League defeat.
Sinfield, who led the Rhinos to seven Grand Final wins as captain, was appointed director of rugby at Headingley earlier this month following the sacking of long-serving head coach Brian McDermott.
His first match in charge was a heavy defeat at Castleford – a club-record-extending eighth Super League loss – before a draw at home to Wakefield last week stopped the rot.
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This success was sorely needed and gives the Rhinos a fighting chance of avoiding a bottom four finish and subsequent relegation fight, an indignity they faced in 2016.
First-half tries from Brad Dwyer, Luke Briscoe, Richie Myler and Matt Parcell laid the platform for a comfortable success over a Widnes side coached by former Leeds’ winger Francis Cummins.
The Vikings have already been condemned to a place in the Qualifiers and they were no match for a Leeds side who handed a debut to on-loan Warrington prop Dom Crosby.
Leeds dominated early field position and Dwyer – handed a starting role for the second week running – went close when he narrowly failed to ground his own grubber kick.
Widnes survived at the expense of a goal-line drop-out and the Rhinos continued to probe, with Dwyer emerging as an influential figure.
Leeds’ teenage full-back Jack Walker then showed outstanding speed to break from deep and find teammate Ash Handley, who was taken out by Danny Walker in a challenge which saw the Widnes’ hooker sin-binned.
Crosby then came on for his debut before Leeds took the lead in the 17th minute when Dwyer collected possession and beat three Widnes’ defenders comfortably as he raced clear to score.
Three minutes later, Briscoe scored when he capitalised on a Widnes handling error to race down the left flank from halfway to score in the corner.
Those two quick tries settled any lingering home nerves and Rhinos dominance led to a third try in the 35th minute when Myler went over from Parcell’s neat pass.
Two minutes before the break, Parcell touched down himself after breaking Widnes’ line from 15 metres out and Myler’s second conversion made it 20-0 at half-time.
England winger Ryan Hall, who this week secured an end-of-season move to NRL outfit Sydney Roosters on a two-year deal, picked up a knock and did not re-emerge for the second half.
But shortly after the restart, Joel Moon dived under the posts to score before Tom Briscoe finished off a flowing move to get in on the act.
With 11 minutes remaining, Jack Walker touched down in the right corner for Leeds’ seventh try before Widnes had Weller Hauraki sin-binned late on.