ON THIS DAY
On the 23rd Februray in 1997 Ryan Sheridan made his Rhinos debut against Dewsbury and in 2003 Leeds got off to a winning start in Super League with victory over Widnes.
On this day in 1997 Ryan Sheridan made his Rhinos debut against Dewsbury in the Challenge Cup. Ryan Sheridan was one of the most influential players in the late 1990’s for the Rhinos. Having joined the club from Sheffield Eagles he was originally seen as a utility player and in his first season mixed between scrum half and hooker. However with the arrival of Graham Murray in 1998, Sheridan came of age and was the perfect foil to the individual brilliance of Iestyn Harris with his organisational skills. The Dewsbury born Sheridan saved his best performances for the Rhinos for the Challenge Cup, a competition he seemed to have a love affair with. In 1999 he was man of the match in all three crucial games on the way to the Final against Wigan, St Helens and then Bradford in the semi final. His incredible pinching of the ball from Danny Peacock in the latter stages of the first half turned the game on it’s head and assured the Rhinos place at Wembley. Indeed, in the final but for Leroy Rivett’s late burst of four tries, Sheridan would surely have won the Lance Todd Trophy. He was magnificent under the twin towers, twice denying London in the opening quarter as they threatened to cause a huge upset. His last ditch tackle on Shaun Edwards and then Karle Hammond steadied the ship before the second half onslaught began. The following season Sheridan was back to his best in the cup again claiming man of the match awards three more times, a run which continued right up until 2002 when he again scooped the award in the memorable win over Bradford Bulls at Valley Parade. Sheridan’s time at Leeds was only interrupted by a serious muscle tear in 2001 which virtually ruled him out for the whole season. In total, Sheridan made 145 starts for Leeds plus 9 substitute appearances. He scored 59 tries and four drop goals to give him a total of 240 points in the Blue and Amber. On this day in 2003 Leeds Rhinos got off to an ideal start to Tetley’s Rugby Super League VIII with a 32-12 win over Widnes Vikings, with winger Mark Calderwood grabbing an opening-day hat-trick. The Rhinos have impressed in their pre-season and Powergen Challenge Cup games so far, and avenged three defeats to Widnes in 2002 with this display. Widnes managed to keep in touch at 18-12 going into the break – largely after three missed goalkicks from David Furner – but three second half scores sealed Leeds’ win. The Rhinos were 10-0 up inside as many minutes, with Chris McKenna touching down Kevin Sinfield’s bomb and Mark Calderwood crossing out wide, Furner converting the first try. Adam Hughes pulled back two points with a penalty, and the Vikings were within two points on 23 minutes when Jason Demetriou squeezed in at the corner, Hughes goaling. But Calderwood restored a six-point lead with his second try – from another bomb – before Francis Cummins was the latest beneficiary of a Sinfield kick to touch down. Former Leeds scrum half and new Widnes captain Ryan Sheridan set up Daniel Frame just after the half hour to cut the interval lead to 18-12. But, when Keith Senior romped in on 45 minutes, Leeds’ dominance was restored. New stand off Andrew Dunemann touched down after a charging Wayne McDonald run on 50 minutes and Calderwood completed his second senior hat-trick by collecting his own chip ahead of Hughes. Kicking proved a problem for the Rhinos, with Furner missing five attempts, although Sinfield completed the scoring with a penalty. Both sides saw a player sin-binned late on, with Ryan Bailey and Robert Relf being yellow-carded following a brawl, but Leeds held firm for the win.