On this Day – 9th May

Jonny Hepworth made his only appearance for Leeds at London Broncos in 2003

ON THIS DAY in 1931 Leeds took on Swinton in the Championship Play Off final of the 1930-31 season. The Loiners had not started off their league campaign strongly, losing four of their opening six games, but had ended the campaign more positively and lost just three games since the start of the new year.

In the Championship semi-final Leeds played Wigan and recorded a convincing 13-0 win to set up this final at Wigan. Leeds suffered a blow before the game with Eric Harris and ‘Juicy’ Adams both ruled out. In the game Joe Thompson hit the upright twice in five minutes and Jim Brough made an error which led to a Swinton try.

Grainge did manage a try for Leeds though and Joe Thompson kicked two goals, but it was not to be Leeds’ year and Swinton were the 14-7 victors.

ON THIS DAY in 1977 former Leeds Rhinos player Dean Lawford was born. Dean signed for the Rhinos in December 1996 from the Sheffield Eagles. Always regarded as one of the most talented and naturally gifted players at the club, Dean failed to cement his place in the Rhinos first team, making only 30 appearances in four seasons at the club scoring 3 tries.

The Dewsbury born hooker started 1998 as first choice hooker and had other opportunities through the season as Graham Murray rested his squad and shared the hooking role around between Lawford, Sheridan and Newton. Indeed, in 2000 Dean was the starting hooker in the Challenge Cup Final at Murrayfield but he could not retain his place. At the end of the 2000 season, Dean left the club and returned to Dewsbury.

Dean originally signed for Sheffield from Dewsbury Moor ARLFC in May 1994 and played in the Centenary Season and Super League I. He made 28 appearances for the Eagles including 20 starts and scored 20 points from 3 tries, 3 goals and 2 drop goals. Whilst at the Rhinos he had a loan spell with Bramley in 1998 and Huddersfield in 1999.

On the international scene, Dean made one appearance for Great Britain Academy in 1996 against France.

Dean Lawford

ON THIS DAY in 2003 the Rhinos took on London Broncos in the league. It was the Rhinos’ third game in eight days and they showed great character under plenty of London pressure. The match also saw Jonny Hepworth make his debut for Leeds in his only first team appearance for the club.

Leeds raced into the lead after ten minutes with a scintillating try from Rob Burrow. The Rhinos extended their advantage to 10-0 after sloppy defence from London and quick thinking from flying winger Mark Calderwood led to an unopposed 80 metre score from a quick restart, with Kevin Sinfield tagging on the extras. Danny McGuire was next on the scoresheet with an 85 metre interception try, and at this point it looked a rout was on the cards.

However, Andrew King had other ideas, steaming onto an inside pass from Chris Thorman to score underneath the posts with Tony Martin adding the extras and then King again was the architect of a try superbly finished by Steve Hall. In the second half London continually pounded the Rhinos line, after an early Andrew Dunemann try, gaining repeated sets but ultimately emerged with only a penalty goal to Tony Martin as they bombed numerous chances.

And it was in-form McGuire, who again came up with the goods when the pressure was on to score in the 73rd minute, squeezing between the Broncos cover defenders from Willie Poching’s offload. A 50 metre penalty from Sinfield and a late converted try by Francis Cummins gave the scoreline a flattering impression following an enthralling and thoroughly entertaining match, but it was the Rhinos who charge on.