On this Day – 23rd May
On this day on previous years, Leeds have travelled to Odsal on three occasions in Super League action with mixed fortunes.
On this day in 1998 the Rhinos took on Sheffield Eagles in Super League. Coming into the game Leeds were still unbeaten in the league, only dropping points in the draw against Castleford Tigers.
They had then gone onto beat Salford and Wigan and grabbed a narrow victory over London Broncos. This match too was a closely fought encounter, with the Rhinos just edging the game to claim a 24-23 win. Paul Sterling scored two tries and Francis Cummins and Graham Holroyd added one each. Iestyn Harris kicked the rest of the points with four conversions.
On this day in 2003 Leeds’ unbeaten start to the season came to a disappointing end at Odsal, with the Bradford Bulls inflicting a 48-22 defeat. The second-versus-top clash had been eagerly anticipated and was seen by a bumper crowd of 21,784, but the Bulls effectively turned the game into a non-event by racing into a 38-6 lead inside 50 minutes.
The Bulls got off to a good start, with James Lowes taking a Joe Vagana offload and sending Tevita Vaikona in at the corner inside four minutes. Leeds cut the gap to two points with a long-range Kevin Sinfield penalty but the Bulls did push their lead out to 6-2 on 15 minutes through a Paul Deacon penalty. Sinfield pulled two points back after interference on Danny Ward, and he then levelled the game from half way after Deacon sent the restart out on the full.
Danny Gartner then scored for the Bulls which Deacon converted and then sent Paul Anderson through a gaping hole to plunder his way over and, with three minutes remaining in the half, Lee Gilmour and Scott Naylor kept the ball alive for Robbie Paul to cross. Another Deacon conversion ensured that Bradford entered half time 24-6 to the good. That advantage was extended further within 72 seconds of the restart, Danny Ward’s knock on giving Bradford the ball and Vainikolo powering through four men on his way to the line. Deacon goaled and added a penalty before an excellent breakaway try on 47 minutes effectively put the Bulls out of reach at 38-6.
Paul handed Vaikona the ball after fielding a kick, and he charged past Chev Walker and up the wing before drawing Gary Connolly and allowing Karl Pratt to race the final 30 yards to the line. Walker pulled a try back when he crossed out wide on 56 minutes, and the comeback continued when, after Paul lost the ball in Sinfield’s tackle after breaking through, Calderwood raced 80 metres to touch down under the posts. Leeds had suddenly sparked into life, but 38-16 would prove too much of a gap for Daryl Powell’s previously unbeaten side to breach.
Vainikolo added a second try on the nod of the video referee after losing the ball when he out-jumped Calderwood to a Deacon bomb on 63 minutes, the conversion giving the hosts a 44-16 lead. Leeds had the consolation of scoring one of the tries of the evening, Rob Burrow and Chris McKenna freeing Calderwood up the right before Sinfield supported to touch down a add the goal. But allowing the kick off to go dead typified the Rhinos’ error-ridden evening, and Bradford saw Vaikona complete his double for the evening late on and enable the Bulls to jump to the Super League summit.
In 2008, Leeds were at Odsal again but this time they went away happy thanks to a 30-14 victory.
The Rhinos scored three of their five tries in the last 20 minutes having trailed 8-0 mid-way through the first half and 14-12 entering the final quarter.
A quick double from Ali Lauitiiti and Brent Webb in the 62nd and 63rd minutes turned a two-point deficit into a 24-14 lead for the visitors, who are now eight points clear of St Helens at the top of the Super League table.
In 2010, the Rhinos were back at Odsal and once again were victorious. Danny McGuire scored the seventh hat-trick of his Leeds Rhinos career to deliver Bradford Bulls a costly lesson in the art of finishing.
In 2014, Leeds welcomed Hull FC to Headingley and Brian McDermott handed a debut to 18-year-old hooker Robbie Ward in a 20-6 win over the Airlie Birds.
Ward marked his debut with a try as the Rhinos saw off the challenge from Hull FC thanks to tries from him, Joel Moon and Brad Singleton.
In 1942, Leeds took on Oldham at Headingley in the Challenge Cup semi final first leg during the Emergency League period of the World War II. The home side secured a narrow 5-2 win in the first leg before finishing the tie off at the Watersheddings in the second leg.