On this Day – 19th June

Paul Sterling

On this day in 1998 the Rhinos bounced back from their first defeat of the season against with a win over Yorkshire rivals Halifax Blue Sox.

Halifax were in good form coming into the game and had beaten their last five opponents who included St Helens and Bradford Bulls. Leeds too had seen off their main competitors with wins over St Helens and Wigan.

Paul Sterling, who had scored five tries so far over that season, and Francis Cummins who had notched up four so far both added two tries each in this match. Marcus St Hilaire also scored a try and Iestyn Harris added the rest of the points with a try, 5 goals and a drop goal which brought the final score to 35-18 to the Rhinos.

On this day in 2004 there was disappointment for the Rhinos at JJB Stadium as they suffered only their second defeat of the season at the hands of Wigan, with Andy Farrell’s two late penalties being the difference in an enthralling game. Wigan struck first through Kris Radlinski after 7 minutes after and Farrell added the conversion to make it 6-0. Marcus Bai hit back three minutes later when he latched onto a grubber from Senior. Then Terry Newton, who had been denied a try in the opening minutes added another against his former side and Farrell again converted to make it 12-4.

Ali Lauitiiti was at his most talented best with ball in hand and he scored his third try in three games, with Sinfield adding a conversion and then a penalty to tie the game up after 30 minutes. Wigan came out firing in the second half and took a ten point lead in as many minutes. First Hock crashed over and then O’Loughlin was on hand to take Newton’s pass, as the hooker latched onto a loose ball on the Leeds goal line, Tickle converted to make it 22-12.

To make matters worse whilst the try was being scored Dave Furner, who has been in devastating form this season, was being helped off the field with an injury. Sinfield then steadied the ship with a penalty after 54 minutes and then converted Jamie Jones-Buchanan third try of the season to make it 22-20. Sinfield and Farrell then traded penalties before the Rhinos mounted a massive full scale assault on the Wigan line and the home sides resolute defence earned them the victory.

Rob Burrow did have an attempt at goal that narrowly drifted wide before Wigan wrapped up the win with a Farrell penalty in front of the posts on the hooter after Sinfield had attempted an audacious drop out with seconds remaining.

On this day in 1957, Moustachioed Test winger Steve ‘Slippery’ Morris – so named for his wonderful evasive skills, gained his sole Australian cap in a win against New Zealand in 1978.

Originally a dashing half back when signed by St George from Dapto after that Test appearance, he was the last player to represent his country whilst playing for a country team.

He made an instant impact in the ARL, leading the Dragons to a Grand Final victory in his debut season and taking the man of the match award as Canterbury were downed 17-13. His second Grand Final appearance for them came seven seasons later, in 1985 – scoring a try in a 7-6 defeat to the Bulldogs – by which time he had established himself as a superb finisher on the flank. A five time State of Origin selection for the Blues, he scored 102 tries in 180 appearances for St George, moving to Sydney Roosters in ’87 from where he joined Leeds for an off-season. A scorer on his Headingley bow against Hull, he posted a hat-trick in a home rout of Castleford and was instrumental in taking the side to the John Player final at Wigan, the Loiners going down by a point.

He retired in 1990 having won three Dally M winger of the Year awards to take up a post in PE teaching. His subsequent joy in the sport has been to watch his twin sons Josh and Brett enjoy stellar careers including both pulling on the green and gold.

On this day in 1975, Mark ‘Bucket’ O’Neill was born. He was one of the unluckiest to sign for Leeds, injuring his shoulder on his Boxing Day introduction and having to wait until two months into the season for his debut.

A leg injury ruled out another six weeks and the bulk of his subsequent appearances were off the bench, nine in total. A Balmain junior before the merger with Western Suburbs, he was a Grand Final winner with Wests Tigers in his final season before coming to Leeds, the second rower starting that campaign as Tim Sheens’ skipper; Scott Prince taking over for the finals series.

In all he made 223 NRL appearances, scoring 21 tries but did not gain representative honours. After his difficult season with Leeds, he signed for Hull KR – scoring five tries in 17 appearances – returning home to work with the NRL, initially on match review, before re-joining Wests as football general manager for an ill-feted short spell.

On this day in 1981, former Leeds Rhinos and England prop Darrell Griffin was born. He joined the Rhinos in 2012 from Huddersfield Giants. He featured in the World Club Challenge win over Manly Sea Eagles at Headingley Carnegie and played in the Grand Final victory later that season at Old Trafford, as well as playing at Wembley that year. In total he made 32 appearances for the Rhinos.