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Rhinos win despite sin-binned Sinfield
Assistant coach James Lowes admitted the decision to sin-bin Kevin Sinfield was fair but Leeds shook off the setback to keep their Cup and League double dream alive with a 34-16 derby win over Bradford.
Fresh from their Challenge Cup semi-final triumph over Wigan, the Super League champions closed to within two points of third-placed Catalan Dragons with a sixth consecutive victory. Sinfield was shown a yellow card for tackling a Bradford player without the ball 17 minutes into the second half but Leeds defended doggedly to claim the win.
"Kev was trying to stop a try and, in the position he was, the sin-binning was fair enough," said Lowes. "How the players reacted to that defensively with 12 men was tremendous. We had to work hard for the win, which was to be expected against Bradford."
He added: "After last Saturday, we were on the crest of a wave and it was quite emotional through the week. I thought it would affect us but I thought we pushed through real strong. All in all, we're very pleased."
Centre Kallum Watkins scored two of Leeds' six tries and sent hooker Shaun Lunt over for the 100th touchdown of his career on 48 minutes, while Danny McGuire, Sinfield and Zak Hardaker also scored tries.
Already without Carl Ablett through injury, the Rhinos lost his centre replacement Brett Delaney with a dislocated thumb six minutes before half-time which necessitated a re-shuffle, although he is expected to be fit for Wembley on August 25. Lowes said: "Hopefully in the next few days we'll get a picture of how bad it is."
Bradford experienced an even bigger blow when in-form full-back Brett Kearney failed to re-appear for the second half after taking a heavy knock before half-time.
"He was concussed," said Bulls coach Mick Potter. "He vomited at half-time and deteriorated quickly. To lose one of your key players does knock you around. He was very good in the first half."
Bradford had opened the scoring with Elliott Whitehead's fourth-minute try and, although they conceded two tries in an ultimately decisive three-minute spell early in the second half, they battled to the end.
"I thought the score didn't reflect how hard the game was," said Potter. "Unfortunately we came up with errors at crucial times and it cost us six points each time."