By PA Sport
Last Updated: 11/05/18 10:48pm
Leeds’ half-back Richie Myler made a scoring return for his hometown club as the Rhinos did enough to beat Widnes 23-20 in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup.
Myler scored a try and an innovative drop goal as the 13-time winners booked their place in the next round, but they were made to dig deep for the result as Widnes came close to pulling off a shock comeback.
Brian McDermott’s side only led 11-4 at the break, but three quickfire tries from Matt Whitley, Alex Gerrard and Charley Runciman were nearly enough to turn the tables on the Rhinos.
It was the Vikings who were the quickest out of the blocks and they very nearly registered four points on two separate occasions as Matt Whitley and then Greg Burke went close.
The Rhinos were still finding their feet when they were reduced to 12 men after 14 minutes as Widnes’ centre Runciman carved a well-worked opening through the Rhinos middle, which resulted in Ashton Golding being sin-binned.
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However, the try came at a cost as Carl Ablett went over awkwardly on his ankle in the build-up and was carried from the field.
The Rhinos confirmed the injury was not serious and Widnes thought they had hit back when Ryan Ince got on the end of Gilmore’s finely weighted kick through, but his effort was chalked off for offside.
Leeds were soon back in charge as Stevie Ward walked through three Vikings defenders and then delivered a beautiful inside ball to Rhinos poacher Myler for a classy score.
Widnes did finally cross through Matty Whitley as the backline shifted the ball from one side to the other for the second-rower to burst over. Tom Gilmore missed the conversion but Widnes were back in it.
But Leeds would not be outdone and as they piled the pressure on the home side. Myler smashed a one-pointer over three minutes before half-time as the Rhinos looked to score again from the restart.
It nearly paid off too as Briscoe kicked through for Walker, but the full-back could not ground. It did not take long for Leeds to go over and Ash Handley laid a try on for Golding to bustle his way over and make amends for his first-half yellow card.
Ward saw off two Widnes tackles to spin over, but Whitley fought back for Widnes with a deserved solo score to give them a flicker of hope at 23-10.
The Vikings kept up the momentum and Gerrard was next to benefit from a Leeds mistake and all of a sudden it was game on as Runciman raced over from Hanbury’s inside ball.
Rookie Widnes wing Ince went close for Denis Betts’ charges nine minutes from the hooter, which would have given his side the lead for the first time, but Leeds recovered with Myler finding the inspiration and game management to make the tie safe for his side.