On this day – 11th May

ON THIS DAY in 1957 Leeds took on Barrow at Wembley. There were very few classic moves in this Final, it is true, but one always had the feeling that something was likely to happen because both sides were quick and enterprising in their efforts to beat deadly tackling.

The game never stagnated, as so many Wembley Finals have done in the past. Most of the excitement stemmed from Barrow’s spirited effort in the second half. They took a shattering blow in the first minute after the interval when Hodgkinson scored, and another when Grundy’s slip increased their arrears to 2-9, but so powerful was their rally that even with only five minutes to go no one would have gambled heavily against their winning.

It was Leeds’s young men who showed most signs of wilting during this period, not Barrow’s old ones. Yet it would be totally wrong to give the impression that Leeds were lucky to win. They scored three tries to one, and they were at least as much on top in the first half as Barrow were in the second. The near misses were about 50-50. Broughton missed one chance for Leeds because he was not quick enough to squeeze past Lewthwaite at the corner flag; Hodgkinson missed another because he failed to take a difficult but by no means impossible pass from Jones on the other wing; Robinson was pulled down inches from the line according to the referee – over it, according to Robinson.

Leeds’ anxious moments were caused by Lewthwaite, who would certainly have scored had his short kick travelled another yard; by Castle, who made his effort to beat Quinn too soon, and was shouldered into touch near the corner; and by Wilson, who found Jones underneath him when he forced his way over the line, and could not ground the ball. Prior beat Redhead only 8-7 in the scrums before the interval, but Leeds had much more possession because they moved smoothly together, rarely dropped their passes, and were quick to take advantage when Barrow dropped theirs. Prior won the second-half scrums 12-10, but Leeds lost their grip on the game because the forwards lacked the energy to storm into the tackle at the play-the-ball.

They waited for Barrow to come to them, and Wilson, Grundy and Home had the manoeuvring space to bring Jackson, Rea, Healey and Harris into moves that became more and more difficult to stop as the second half went on. Stevenson won the Lance Todd Trophy by a clear majority, from Robinson, McLellan and Wilson.

Fifteen minutes from the end I could not decide between him and Wilson for my vote, but Stevenson won it because he continued to be in every Leeds attack and at nearly every danger point in defence, as he had been from the start. Quinn also had a capital game. He never put a foot wrong in his general full-back play, and he supplied invaluable embellishment by sneaking up unexpectedly at a play-the-ball to take Prior’s pass and force his way over for the only score of the first half.

McLellan was the staunch, strong player he has been all season – an inspiring captain. People around me blamed Jones for passes to Broughton and Hodgkinson that went astray, but I thought he played well. His very presence caused Jackson so much anxiety that we never saw the Jackson-Lewthwaite wing in attack; he made two of the finest runs of the match; and he paved the way for the second try scored by Hodgkinson.

The movement, from the first scrum of the second half, was a replica of that which brought a try at a crucial point of the Good Friday match against Hunslet, except that in this case Jones crossed behind the scrum from left to right to take Stevenson’s pass, instead of McLellan crossing from right to left. Barrow eyes were on Lendill, who did not touch the ball at all. Hodgkinson still had Ball to beat after Jones had made the running. His inside sidestep was so perfectly timed that Ball was left at a standstill – a lovely try from start to finish.

That made it 6-0, to Leeds. Home stopped the rot by landing an easy penalty goal, but it took considerable courage to rally as Barrow did after Robinson had scored. They had their reward when Jackson, slipping through Broughton’s tackle, scored a try which Home improved to make it 9-7 with 16 minutes to go, although I do not expect Leeds to believe that. To them it must have seemed like 116.

Leeds: P. Quinn, D. Hodgkinson, K. McLellan, L. Jones, G. Broughton, J. Lendill, J. Stevenson, J. Anderson, B. Prior, W. Hopper, B. Poole, D. Robinson, H, Street.
Tries: Quinn, Hodgkinson, Robinson.
Barrow: J Ball, J. Lewthwaite, P. Jackson, J. Rea, F. Castle, W. Home, J. Harris, G Woosey, M. Redhead, R. Parker, J. Grundy, D. Wilson, B. Healey.
Tries: Jackson.
Goals: Horne (2)
Referee: C.F.Appleton (Warrington) Attendance: 76,318

ON THIS DAY in 1929, Leeds lost the Championship Final to Huddersfield at Halifax.

Leeds had qualified for the Final with victory over Hull K.R. at Craven Park. At half-time the visitors were losing by four points to nil, but after a penalty goal by Thompson had reduced their lead, a sudden dart by Swift gave him a try and Thompson’s touch line conversion was the final score.

The Final was a very fast and keenly contested game with our players failing to grasp their opportunities in the second half: Andrews knocked down a pass from Rosser with the line at his mercy, and Davis followed suit with a pass from Moores. Leeds, however, were handicapped by lack of pace on the wings, with Mills and Smart easily neutralising Lloyd and Andrews.

The Leeds team on this occasion was: Brough; Andrews, Rosser, O’Rourke, Lloyd; Moores, Swift; Pascoe, Demaine, Thompson, Davis, Thomas, Gallagher.

ON THIS DAY in 1968 Leeds played Wakefield in the Challenge Cup at Wembley in what became to be known as the Watersplash Final.

Leeds were the league leaders and in this final took on the team who finished in second place – Wakefield – in what were unusually hard conditions.

87,100 travelled to see the game and despite many taking the view that the waterlogged pitch was not fit for play, the match went ahead, resulting in neither team being able to show much skill, but the game proved to be a dramatic game nonetheless and one of the most memorable final in the history of the game.

John Atkinson’s mistake in the first half led to a Wakefield try, but he was later awarded a controversial penalty try which ultimately won it for Leeds, along with 4 goals from Bev Risman. It was to be a cruel day for Wakefield who had the chance to win the game in the final minute. The Leeds defence were unable to stop Ken Hirst, due to the slippery conditions and the Wakefield man touched down, leaving the pressure on Don Fox to add the conversion which would seal the win for Wakefield.

Cruelly for Wakefield Fox, who had been outstanding in the game and had landed the Lance Todd trophy, he missed the kick from in front of the posts, after stumbling slightly as he took the kick. As the kick went wide Leeds fans breathed a sigh of relief as the Loiners captured the Cup after their first trip to the final in eleven years.

ON THIS DAY in 1986, Leeds came close to rescuing a disappointing season in the Premiership Trophy. After the bitter disappointment of replay defeat to Hull KR in the Challenge Cup semi final, Leeds picked themselves up and Phil Owen’s stunning long range try the highlight of a surprise semi final victory at St Helens to end their record-equalling run of 13 successive wins. However, the following week Leeds’ season was ended by a narrow 16-13 defeat at Halifax, conceding the winning try to Tony Anderson three minutes from time. The game would prove to be David Ward’s 482nd and final appearance for the club in a glittering career since 1971 and also the last appearance for stalwart Neil Hague. 

LEEDS: Wilkinson, Francis, Creasser, Gibson, A Smith, Hague, Conway, Grayshon, Ward, Keith Rayne, Kevin Rayne, Owen, Heron.

Subs: Hill, Medley 

Tries: Francis, Creasser Goals: Conway, Creasser Drop goal: Hague

ON THIS DAY in 1997 Leeds took on Salford for the first time in Super League.

Coming into the game the team had bounced back from a defeat against London Broncos to convincingly defeat Paris St Germain. In this match both Paul Sterling and Phil Hassan scored two tries each and Iestyn Harris and Ryan Sheridan scored one each. Harris also kicked 3 goals and Graham Holroyd added a drop goal to give the Rhinos a 33-20 win.

ON THIS DAY in 2001 the Rhinos took on their local rivals Bradford at Headingley. The team were on a good run of form, having won their last 4 games and in the match prior to this had recorded their biggest league win of the season with a 74-16 victory over St Helens.

In this game though Bradford Bulls, who went onto win the league that year, were the 33-14 winners. Try scorers for Leeds were Tonie Carroll and Rob Burrow who both scored for the Rhinos and Iestyn Harris landed three goals, but it was not enough and the team lost their third game of the season.

ON THIS DAY in 2008, Leeds made the long trip down to London to play Harlequins RL in the Challenge Cup Fifth Round.

Very late tries from Jamie Peacock and Danny McGuire ensured that the Rhinos were in the hat for the Quarter Final but they escaped a major upset by the skin of their teeth.

The Rhinos had led 24-4 at the start of the second half but Quins then scored 22 unanswered points in an 18 minute period that looked as if it would end the Rhinos Carnegie Challenge Cup dreams. 

ON THIS DAY in 2013, Leeds there was Challenge Cup disappointment for the Rhinos. The Rhinos have been to three successive Wembley finals in 2010, 2011 and 2012 but there was to be no repeat this time as Brian McDermott’s side suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Huddersfield.

ON THIS DAY in 2018, Leeds were in Challenge Cup action again with a trip to Widnes. The Rhinos, who were reigning Super League Champions, were pushed all the way by the Vikings, who would be relegated at the end of the season before eventually progressing through 23-20.

ON THIS DAY in 2019, Leeds suffered one of their lowest days in the summer era with defeat to Championship side Bradford Bulls in the Challenge Cup at Odsal.

The week had begun with the departure of Head Coach David Furner and ended with a shock defeat to the Rhinos old rival in front of the national BBC tv cameras.