Rhinos ride the Storm for vital victory

IPSWICH Rhinos threw aside the Jekyll and Hyde performances of recent weeks that has cost them dearly and faced the full force of South London Storm head on in the Rugby League Conference Premier Division SouthIn difficult conditions, spectators were treated to an excellent game from two evenly-matched sides.

IPSWICH Rhinos threw aside the Jekyll and Hyde performances of recent weeks that has cost them dearly and faced the full force of South London Storm head on in the Rugby League Conference Premier Division South

In difficult conditions, spectators were treated to an excellent game from two evenly-matched sides. At the final whistle only an 80th-minute drop goal could separate them, The Rhinos inflicting the season's first defeat on the division's leaders and current Conference champions in a 25-24 victory.

In a tense opening 10 minutes neither side could gain an advantage until, with Rhinos full-back James Mayhew off the pitch for treatment, Ipswich failed to cover his position, allowing Gilvary to hack on a Storm kick and drop on it for an unconverted touch down.

Ipswich came back strong and, after holding Storm in their 20-metre area for two successive tackle sets, Nick Woodland's high kick into the corner was collected by Dan Kerr who stepped over in the corner. Peter LeMarquand converted a very difficult kick to put the Rhinos ahead 6-4.


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The game continued with excellent end-to-end rugby. South London generally showed greater flair in attack and were more adventurous with their off-loads, and capped an excellent attacking set on 25 minutes with a clever chip over the Rhinos defence for Ollie Bloom to chase down and score.

Paul LeMarquand and Ben Louisson were outstanding for the Rhinos in defence and attack. It was a Louisson break on 35 minutes that set up an attack from which Peter LeMarquand battled over the try-line by the posts to give himself an easy conversion and the Rhinos a 12-10 half-time lead.

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It could, however, have been very different as, on the stroke of half- time, Storm, with men over wide, fumbled the final pass into touch but they made up for it at the start of the second half with a try before the Rhinos could recompose themselves to regain the lead. Bloom scored out wide after quick plays of the ball and slick passing opened up the Rhinos defence.

The Rhinos responded with a period of concerted pressure but Storm's resolute defence held firm until the 52nd minute when, looking to close down the kicker, they allowed Adam Cook to scoot over the line on the last tackle from two metres. Andy Windridge then extended the Ipswich lead with an excellent angled run to touch down under the posts.

Peter LeMarquand converted both to give the Rhinos a comfortable 24-14 cushion. It was, however, South London's turn to turn up the heat. Tries from Adrian Clarke and Millan from excellent passing moves leveled the score at 24-24 with only four minutes to go. Ipswich besieged the Storm 20-metre area for the remaining minutes looking for the decisive drop goal. Peter LeMarquand's first attempt was scuffed along the ground as he was obstructed by a team-mate but the Rhinos quickly regained possession when Adam Cook ripped the ball from a Storm player in the tackle, and LeMarquand made no mistake with his second attempt to snatch a 25-24 victory.

The victory puts Ipswich back in fourth place in the Premier South Division, and with the top three sides all facing each other in the coming weeks, a play-off place is still possible. However, this week they face a difficult trip to North London Skolars and must come away with a result if they are to progress.

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