On this Day – 20th May
The 20th May in years gone by has marked two very important occasions in the club’s history. In 1961 the Loiners claimed their first Championship title and 11 years later they claimed their third title.
On this day in 1961 Leeds took on Warrington in the Championship Play Off final. Leeds had been in exceptional form over the season, securing 30 wins from 36 games to see them finish the season at the top of the table for the first time.
In this game at Bradford’s Odsal Stadium Leeds faced league runners up Warrington in front of a 52,177 crowd. Lewis Jones led his side magnificently and it was Leeds who dominated the game thanks partly to their outstanding defence. Fairbank crashed over to give Leeds the initial lead and Lewis Jones added the conversion to make it 5-0 on 15 minutes. Scrum half Colin Evans then doubled the lead for Leeds before half time. In the second half Derek Hallas scored two tries to establish an 18-0 lead which looked like it had put the game beyond Warrington. Two tries from Challinor for Warrington started their fightback but a penalty and a try from their inspirational skipper Lewis Jones secured the club’s first ever Championship.
On this day in 1972 Leeds played St Helens in the Championship Play Off final at Station Road, Swinton. Leeds had finished the season in top spot having dominated the competition. This was the second major final that year that Leeds had faced St Helens that year with the two teams having come up against each other in the Challenge Cup Final. In that game St Helens had been the 16-13 winners. Leeds were able to take revenge in this game to claim their third Championship title.
David Ward came into the side to make the first of his 14 appearances in major finals and had a massive impact. Leeds took the initial lead on 11 minutes through a Terry Clawson penalty. Eight minutes later though Saints were on top after Leslie Greenall scored a try, but crucially Coslett missed the conversion. Going into half time St Helens held onto their narrow lead despite the efforts of John Holmes and Alan Hardisty who both attempted drop goals to level the scores.
In the second half Clawson landed a 45th minute penalty before John Atkinson went over in the corner for the Loiners’ first try. Clawson added the conversion to put Leeds in a comfortable lead. St Helens never gave in however and Walsh landed a drop goal for them but it was not enough as Leeds put their Challenge Cup disappointment behind them to be named Champions.
In 2005, the Rhinos welcomed Leigh to Headingley in the Super League. The two sides had met the previous week at Leigh, when Leeds had ran out 60-4 winners and the visitors again looked to have little answer to Leeds’ power and pace in the first half but produced an outstanding second 40 minutes to give the Champions the fright of their lives.
The Rhinos gave a debut to Academy product Scott Murrell, the son of former Leeds Challenge Cup winning full back Bryan Murrell. Leeds eventually won 42-24.
In 2007, Leeds faced Hull FC at the KCOM Stadium a week after a painful loss to Wigan in the Challenge Cup. Tony Smith’s side battled hard but were unable to overcome the home side, losing out 16-12.
In 2011, the Rhinos took on Harlequins RL in the Challenge Cup at Headingley. The game saw Brian McDermott come up against his former club. Rob Powell’s side had defeated Leeds at Headingley earlier in the season in Super League but the Rhinos were good value for their 40-20 win in this clash to book a spot in the Challenge Cup Quarter Final.
In 2013, Leeds Rhinos took on St Helens at Headingley in Super League. The game marked the debut of teenager Liam Sutcliffe for the Rhinos but it was another youngster who won the game for the visitors when Luke Thompson crashed over in the final minutes.
The Rhinos allowed a 16-0 first half lead to slip away as they lost to St Helens 30-22 on the opening Monday night game of the summer.
In 1979, Leeds faced Wigan at Headingley in the Premiership semi final. A rain swept Headingley witnessed a tremendous contest as Leeds battled to reach the Premiership Final. Wigan looked to be swinging the game their way until Neil Hague scored a great try when everyone thought the ball was going dead. They try tipped the scales Leeds’ way, and a minute later Sanderson scored again. Dick’s goal kicking also shattered Wigan, whilst Atkinson joyfully skipped over for a late try to complete the Cherry and White’s tale of woe.
Leeds: Hague, D Smith, Wilby, Dyl, Atkinson, Holmes, Sanderson, Harrison, Ward, Pitchford, Joyce, Eccles, Cookson
Subs: Dick, Adams
Two former Rhinos celebrate their birthday’s day. French international Eric Anselme was born on this day in 1978, he played for the Rhinos in 2008, scoring a try on his debut against Bradford at the Magic Weekend that season.
Joel Moon was born on this day in 1998. Moon was a key member of the Rhinos squad between 2013 and 2017, winning Grand Finals in 2015 and in his final game in 2017. He crossed for a crucial try in the Treble Winning Grand Final against Wigan in 2015.