Rampant Rhinos see off Hull
Hull failed to overcome the shock absence of Gareth Ellis as Leeds made a confident start to the defence of Super League with a 36-6 win.
All the pre-match focus had been on the England forward's eagerly-awaited return to Super League after a four-year stint in Australia but the Hull skipper was sensationally ruled out after damaging an ankle in the warm-up.
Hull coach Peter Gentle was forced to re-shuffle his line-up, with Richard Whiting coming off the bench to take Ellis' second row spot and Chris Green promoted from 18th man to the bench.
For nearly an hour the Black and Whites made light of the absence of the former Leeds favourite and actually looked capable of condemning the Rhinos to a first opening-day defeat for 12 years.
But, inspired by long-serving half-backs Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow, the champions wore down the visitors' resistance to score five tries in the last 25 minutes and run out comfortable winners.
It was cruel on Hull, who had been expected to mount a serious challenge with the aid of Ellis, one of seven close-season signings.
Leeds also lost one of their newcomers, Australian winger Joe Vickery, with an ankle injury but it could not take the gloss off a polished performance by the champions, for whom skipper Kevin Sinfield scored the points he needed to climb to eighth in the league's all-time list of scorers.
With stand-off Daniel Holdsworth prompting effectively, Hull had dominated the opening exchanges, helped by a couple of penalties conceded by Leeds forward Ryan Bailey.
However, both defences looked superbly drilled and it was a blunder by second rower Ben Galea that resulted in the game's first try.
It came, on 15 minutes, when Galea's cold hands fumbled McGuire's grubber kick on his own line and Sinfield got his hand to the ball.
The conversion took Sinfield ahead of Leeds legend Lewis Jones in the all-time list of scorers but the score failed to produce the anticipated points spree from the champions.
Leeds lost debutant winger Joe Vickery with an ankle injury after 28 minutes and Hull drew level shortly afterwards when replacement Aaron Heremaia's lightning break set up the position for Joe Westerman to get centre Joe Arundel over for a try.
Holdsworth's angled conversion levelled the scores and it remained at 6-6 until the 56th-minute.
Leeds ought to have made more of a clinical break by the ever-dangerous McGuire and they would have scored had Burrow been able to take an awkward pass by winger Ryan Hall.
The pressure eventually told midway through the second half when the champions cracked the Hull defence twice in three minutes to seize control of the game.
Debutant centre Joel Moon took Sinfield's long pass and, despite slipping on the greasy turf, managed to nip through a gap in the visitors' defence to touch down.
Sinfield's second goal made it 12-6 and he was again on target shortly afterwards when old warhorse Jamie Peacock took a pass from his skipper and majestically sidestepped his way past full-back Shannon McDonnell for a rare try.
The floodgates then opened as Hull's first-half exertions caught up with them.
McGuire got back rower Chris Clarkson galloping 30 metres for a try before racing over himself for a deserved score and Hall bumped off the challenge of Arundel to romp over for Leeds' sixth try, to which Sinfield added a sixth goal.