• Leeds Rhinos
  • 17 - 16

  • Salford Red Devils
  • Leeds Rhinos
  • HT 12 - 6
  • Salford Red Devils
17th October 2020 | KO 15:00 | Wembley Stadium | Coral Challenge Cup

Leeds Rhinos 17 Salford Red Devils 16

RL Cup Final. Rhinos v Red Devils. Sat 17th Oct. © MATTHEW MERRICK PHOTOGRAPHY

A crucial drop goal from skipper Luke Gale earned Leeds Rhinos their 14th Challenge Cup win at Wembley, edging Salford Red Devils 17-16.

Tom Briscoe and Adam Cuthbertson were the only members of Richard Agar’s side that played in Leeds’ last Challenge Cup Final in 2015; Briscoe scoring a record five tries. Gale led his hometown club for the first time, featuring alongside Rob Lui in the halves, and academy talent Alex Sutcliffe was also included on the bench for his first major final. Former Leeds players Kallum Watkins and Tui Lolohea were named in the Salford lineup; Watkins in particular playing in four Cup finals and winning two while wearing blue and amber.

It was a big day too for the Leeds club as two time Cup winner Rob Burrow was named as the guest of honour in absentia.

Rhyse Martin got the game underway and it was evident that both sides were feeling the pressure; Tyrone McCarthy and Gale putting the ball down within the opening minutes. Despite being behind, Salford had some of the best chances of the half, starting with a break down the left edge from Kris Welham. Choosing to pass outside to Krisnan Inu, the winger’s kick in field didn’t find the onrushing Niall Evalds and instead fell into the hands of Leeds’ Richie Myler.

Leeds hit the front on 12 minutes through Tom Briscoe, who was making scoring at Wembley a habit. Salford had been penalised for a high tackle on Matt Prior and Leeds smelled the try line instantly; former Red Devils player Rob Lui poking his nose through the Salford line from short range but the ball was just short. Instead of spinning the ball wide, Kruise Leeming felt the Salford defence was weak on the edge and chose to dart out of dummy half and pass to Konrad Hurrell, who shifted the ball quickly onto Briscoe, who tip-toed his way into the corner. Video referee had the first big decision of the Final to make and decided that Briscoe hadn’t touched the sideline before grounding the ball. Martin’s conversion ricochetted off the upright but went over and Leeds were in front.

The Rhinos were nearly in again through Ash Handley but the winger couldn’t take Gale’s cross field kick surrounded by Salford bodies. The Rhinos tried the same play again, banana kicking the ball back across for Handley but Ken Sio took the ball and managed to offload the ball to Evalds. The full back noticed no Leeds defenders on the wing and passed a questionable ball for Rhys Williams, who raced 80 metres and grounded the ball under the posts to level the scores.

The Red Devils, high off their try, had a great chance to take the lead for the first time through Evalds as the full back charged on to a pass on the inside from Kevin Brown but as Evalds attempted to chip kick Myler, the Leeds full back claimed the ball and broke away himself. Off the back of anther penalty for the Rhinos, James Donaldson thought he’d reached out and scored but a the video referee looked, it was clear the Leeds substitute had forced a double movement.

Despite the set back, Leeds made sure they went into half time with the advantage. Salford were adjudged to be offside from a Tui Lolohea kick, giving the Rhinos a penalty and off the back of it, quick passes from Myler and Liam Sutcliffe opened up space on the edge for Handley to stroll in the corner untouched. Another Martin conversion took the Rhinos into half time with a 12-6 lead.


The Rhinos lost Adam Cuthbertson to injury early in the second half, forcing Leeds to go down to 16 players. A break by Briscoe, who sped passed Pauli Pauli, looked promising for Leeds to build some pressure but a knock on near to Salford’s try line diffused any chance of points.

The Red Devils pushed down field and a kick through the line was well weighted, forcing Handley to take the ball in goal. Although it looked to be more pressure for Salford, Myler’s drop out came off the foot of Lolohea whose the ball go over the sideline. Invigorated by their luck, the Rhinos marched down towards the arch and earned another penalty; Martin being dragged illegally over the sidelines. Again, a handling error from Donaldson so close to the Salford try line turned possession over.

It would prove fatal for the Rhinos both on the scoreboard and the team on the field as the Red Devils scored back to back tries. A high bomb from Lolohea saw Briscoe and Welham go up to take it but the Leeds winger was judged by video referee Thaler to have knocked the ball on. Briscoe would also be taken from the field for a head injury assessment. With a new set, Salford only needed two tackles, moving the ball to Pauli Pauli, who bulldozed has way through Sutcliffe and Alex Mellor to get over the line.

Inu crucially missed the conversion from out wide, keeping the Rhinos ahead, but following a knock on by Oledzki, Salford tried their luck again from Lolohea’s high bomb. Myler let the ball bounce and the Red Devils picked up the loose ball, Joey Lussick feeding James Greenwood to go over. Inu didn’t miss with this attempt, giving Salford the lead for the first time in the game.

Going into the last 20 minutes, Brad Dwyer was brought onto the replace Kruise Leeming and the hooker made an instant impact, darting out of dummy half to push Leeds forward. With the Salford line insight, Gale elected not to kick on the last tackle and instead shift the ball onto Lance Todd Trophy winner Myler, who’s quick pass found Handley open again for the winger to get his second of the game; video referee Thaler agreeing that the winger never went into touch and grounded the ball securely. Martin’s conversion went wide, locking the game up at 16 all.

Briscoe was reintroduced after passing his HIA coming into the last ten minutes and both teams knew they had to push for a winner. After Gale pulled a drop goal attempt from 25 metres out agonisingly wide, Salford had the chance to seal it as Watkins broke away but his pass to Williams went to ground under pressure from Handley. Salford try scorer Pauli Pauli knocked the ball on on the half way line shortly after and after five tackles got Gale in the right position, the skipper stepped up and slotted home the drop goal, edging Leeds into a 17-16 lead.

The game still wasn’t over with minutes to spare; Pauli Pauli being tipped dangerously in the tackle to earn his side a ‘make or break’ penalty. Camped on the Leeds line, Salford spun the ball wide but lost the ball, giving Leeds the ball and the Challenge Cup.

Team Performance







Player Performance

Richie Myler0000000
Tom Briscoe1000000
Konrad Hurrell0000000
Liam Sutcliffe0000000
Ash Handley2000000
Robert Lui0000000
Luke Gale0010000
Ava Seumanufagai0000000
Kruise Leeming0000000
Mikolaj Oledzki0000000
Alex Mellor0000000
Rhyse Martin0200000
Matt Prior0000000
Brad Dwyer0000000
Alex Sutcliffe0000000
James Donaldson0000000
Adam Cuthbertson0000000
Niall Evalds0000000
Rhys Williams1000000
Kallum Watkins0000000
Kris Welham0000000
Krisnan Inu0200000
Tui Lolohea0000000
Kevin Brown0000000
Lee Mossop0000000
Joey Lussick0000000
Gil Dudson0000000
Tyrone McCarthy0000000
James Greenwood1000000
Mark Flanagan0000000
Sebastine Ikahihifo0000000
Pauli Pauli1000000
Luke Yates0000000
Greg Burke0000000
Stats Key
  • TR: Tries
  • RD: Red Cards
  • GL: Goals
  • I+: Interchange On
  • DG: Drop Goals
  • I-: Interchange Off
  • YC: Yellow Cards