This was by far their best performance of the season, and that was despite missing the likes of Vice-Captain Shaun Collins (manoeuvres), Danny Pratt (injured), Colin Sharp (housework) and Julian Edwards (suspended).
They were boosted though by the return of centre Paul Boulard, scrum half Mark Richards, while Richard Bellingham filled in for Henley’s welterweight.
Their victory was centred round superior close quarter passing, despite some heavy showers, along with their trademark pick and drives. They were also helped by their opponents persistently kicking the ball deep, only to have full back Nick Brooks scythe through their on rushing defence, returning the ball with interest and then some.
They took the lead after sixteen minutes with an unconverted try; Marc McAdden carried over after a lineout catch and drive. Whilst the lineouts were an even affair, the Rhinos were putting on the pressure at scrum time. One such set play led to a bemused hooker Glyn Blakemore being penalised for not striking for the ball, the referee forgetting that it was the home sides put in.
It was from another scrum that they extended their lead. The pack walked their opponents back towards their own try line, Bellingham controlling the ball before picking up a yard or so shy, spinning through a tackle and diving over. They then had to defend heroically for a five minute spell just before the break, as the Horde sought a way back into the game. They did concede a number of penalties, and maybe they could have seen a card brandished, but they survived to lead 10-0.
The lead was extended further early in the second period, again from a short range scrum. This time Bellingham drove off the back and drew the defence before popping to the ever willing Mark Richards, who dived over in “Ashtonesque” fashion. Justin Wheeler finally found his kicking boots to add the extras.
As replacements made their way onto the paddock, the hosts finally found their way over the whitewash for an unconverted score. Briefly it looked as if they would find their way back into the game. However, with ten minutes left on the clock Keith Searle’s men all but wrapped the game up with a fourth try. With the defence sucked in, fly half Mark Lilley was able to throw a long pass to an eager Justin Wheeler, who slid over from five or so metres; and he then added the conversion.
The Horde did manage to cross for a second unconverted score with the final play of the game, but the Crash had done more than enough to secure the win. In the process they jumped to the top of TVIL South Division, leading the Horde by a point but having played once less fixture.
The Rhinos now have a week off, before a run of four league fixture on the spin, starting with a home fixture (24 Nov) against Egham Hollowegians II, They then hit the road for their final three games of 2018.