On this Day – 7th June

Chev Walker against Castleford in 2003 at Headingley

ON THIS DAY in 1997, Leeds Rhinos opened up their World Club Championship campaign with a tough game against North Queensland Cowboys in Townsville.


ON THIS DAY in 2002 Leeds were defeated by St Helens, ending their five match winning run. Both teams had gone into the game knowing that they would secure second place in the Super League table at the midway point of the regular season, but Saints made light of the absence of Keiron Cunningham, Sean Long and Paul Newlove with a dominant display. Peter Shiels and Chris Joynt helped Saints into a 12-0 lead before Francis Cummins, who had already had a try controversially ruled out, got the Rhinos on the scoreboard.

Anthony Stewart pushed Saints further ahead before Keith Senior had a score ruled out, and Saints responded with a try and drop goal from Paul Sculthorpe to open up a 23-6 half time lead. Sculthorpe extended that further with a penalty before Mark Calderwood touched down for Leeds. But Saints’ dominance saw Mick Higham grab two tries in the final 11 minutes and Anthony Stewart complete his double, with Calderwood’s second being no more than consolation for Leeds.

ON THIS DAY in 2003 the Rhinos took on Castleford and with a win moved four points clear at the head of the Tetley’s Super League table with a 39-26 defeat of their local rivals.

Leeds had to come back from 10-0 down after ten minutes of the game, and tries to duo Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow gave the leaders another victory. The Rhinos could have taken a second minute lead, when Mark Calderwood broke downfield from a quick tap, but Michael Eagar did brilliantly to get back to ankle tap him. And it was the Castleford centre himself who grabbed the first try two minutes later, but Wayne Bartrim missed the conversion attempt. He was able to add the extras to their second try on ten minutes, when a play-the-ball mix-up led to Andy Johnson winning the ball back for Danny Orr to spin out of Matt Diskin to race in. Leeds hit back well, with Matt Diskin being held up before McGuire and Barrie McDermott sent Wayne McDonald powering in, Kevin Sinfield converting.

Waine Pryce took a Sinfield bomb well under pressure, but fast Leeds hands on 21 minutes saw Keith Senior put Francis Cummins in at the corner, Sinfield putting them 12-10 up with a towering goal. And Cummins crossed for his second try on 28 minutes to become the third player to score 100 tries in Super League’s regular weekly rounds.

Leeds moved into a 20-10 lead four minutes before half time, McDermott and Andrew Dunemann freeing Chev Walker on the right, and his one-handed offload sent Mark Calderwood racing to the corner. But the Tigers got back into the game a minute before the break when Pryce was first to a grubber from Jonny Hepworth, who was then on loan at Castleford from Leeds. Bartrim’s well-struck goal from wide out cut the gap to four points going into half time, and the Tigers moved 22-20 up inside a minute of the restart when Gary Connolly mis-kicked attempting to clear and Pryce pounced.

Sinfield missed a long-range penalty attempt on 47 minutes, but Leeds returned to the lead with two quick tries before the hour mark. Firstly, Chris Feather charged down Orr’s kick and McGuire hacked on before collecting one-handed to touch down, and the Walker stormed through from half way, Sinfield supported and sent Burrow over. Sinfield kicked both conversions, and Leeds were suddenly 32-22 to the good.

Castleford immediately got back into the game, with Eagar returning the favour for Rogers to touch down in the corner and cut the gap to six points going into the final quarter-hour. Burrow kicked a drop goal with nine minutes remaining to edge Leeds away, and Senior crossed in the final minute to complete a derby double over the Tigers to keep up their lead at the head of the table.

ON THIS DAY in 2013 the Rhinos were up against the Tigers again at Headingley with youngster Thomas Minns marking his debut with a try along with a hat trick from Jimmy Keinhorst.