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No Rhinos Disgrace as Warriors Take Trophy
Posted by southstander on August 28 2011 - 09:34:07

So Close
This was the Challenge Cup final that we couldn't win.

No-one gave us a chance of victory over Wigan, not the pundits, not the bookies, not the neutrals, and not even our own fans.

The travelled to Wembley full of hope that we'd put up a fight, but with the expectation that we'd be travelling home without the famous old trophy. We weren't disappointed on either front.

We bring you all of the Wembley action here......

18

Rhinos

v

Warriors

28

Challenge Cup Final

Wembley Stadium

27th August 2011

No Rhinos Disgrace as Warriors Take Trophy

Brian McDermott promised 'no surprises' with his team selection and for once delivered, well...almost. Smith and Lauiti'iti were the two to miss out, as widely predicted, but what no-one saw coming was that Hauraki would start at loose forward in place of Clarkson. Perhaps it is now impossible for Sinfield to play loose forward?

There were plenty of empty seats at a Wembley which kept getting a drenching from passing showers. Those that were in the great stadium were pretty vocal and the tension built towards kick-off. Rhinos fans were intent of having a good day out, despite the fact that 99% of them were expecting defeat.

The opening exchanges were mostly all Wigan, but with the Rhinos soaking up the pressure and matching it with stoical defence. It took the favourites nine minutes to break our defences and followed a Rhinos knock-on. Wigan moved the ball right and Charnley crossed on the overlap to score in the corner. Richards missed the conversion.

Three minutes later and it looked like the Rhinos nemesis, Sam Tomkins, was going down the middle to open his personal Wembley account, but good tracking back by Watkins saw him hauled down.

Leeds dug deep, but spent most of the next quarter of an hour on the back foot. On twenty five we were breached again, this time after a howler from Webb who dropped a high kick under absolutely no pressure. Two plays from the scrum and Jeff Lima stretched over for a simple try. Richards added the extras and we were 0-10 down.


60 minutes of effort
Two minutes later and the game got more desperate for Leeds as Wigan scored a sensational length of the field try. A cross-field kick by Watkins was collected near his own line by Sam Tomkins who crabbed right before throwing a long pass to to brother Joel. The Wigan centre then went ninety metres, turning the Rhinos defence inside out, to score under the sticks making the Richards conversion a formality.

We were 0-16 down and it was no less than Wigan deserved, the Rhinos were beginning to live up to our worst fears for the game. Now we all feared the worst.

With five minutes of the half remaining the Rhinos started their fightback.

Leeds got a penalty some thirty from the Wigan line and opted to tap rather than kick. In what seemed far too simple a move we passed the ball left and Hall crossed on the overlap. Sinfield slid the conversion wide but at least we'd not been nilled.

Two minutes later and we all started to 'believe' again. A good break by Jamie Jones-Buchanan made ground and excellent backing-up saw the ball moved right before Ben Jones-Bishop stepped inside wrong-footing the Wigan defence to score. Sinfield slotted the extras for 10-16 and it was game on.

As the hooter sounded Watkins kicked through on his own twenty and set off to chase before being shoulder charged off the ball in what should have been a sin-binning. Bentham gave the penalty but it came to nothing.

Pride restored we went into the dressing rooms with the momentum and there was a great buzz amongst Rhinos fans that we'd both restored pride and got ourselves back into the game.

We needed the first score of the second half and it took us ninteen minutes of battling to get it.

Leeds had controlled much of the second half when, on fifty-nine, Ablett benefitted from the relentless Leeds pressure crashing over the line to score. Bentham passed the decision to Steve 'Saint' Ganson in video room who couldn't finad anything to disallow it for. Sinfield uncharacteristicall missed the opportunity to level the scores and we still trailed 14-16.

Three minutes later and Bentham made up for his failure to get Abletts try chalked off my missing a blatant forward pass which allowed Lima to go over next to the sticks for his second of the afternoon. Richards goaled for 14-22 and despite us being up against it there was still an expectation amongst Leeds fans that we could fight back and take the game.


Missed three kicks

With ten minutes remaining Leeds got a penalty after a high tackle on Burrow. A good kick got position and the ball was moved out to Hall who went over in the corner for his second. Sinfield again failed to add the extras (the only difference between the two sides) but we were back within a score at 18-22.

Minutes later and we should have taken the lead when Jones-Bishop broke down the right wing and only had Tomkins to beat but decided to put in a kick. Tomkins and McGuire raced for the ball in goal but despite Tomkins failing to ground the ball the bounce also beat McGuire who only managed to knock the ball dead. You felt that Jones-Bishop could have gone alone and scored.

With three minutes left the referee made almost a big a howler as he had for the second Lima try as he ruled that a kick had been pushed into touch by Leeds when it was clearly off a Wigan foot. Wigan got head and feed at the scrum and three tackles later they sealed their victory when Leuluai went over. Despite the Wigan hooker appearing to fumble the ball on the line the video referee would have been delighted to hit the 'Benefit of Doubt' button to take away any last chance the Rhinos had of creating the biggest cup final shock since 1998.

The lads showed a lot of pride today, played beyond our expectations and did us proud. But you can't beat a champion Wigan side and the referee.

All we have left now is the hope of a strong finish to the season and another crack at Wigan at Old Trafford. But that is probably being just a little optimistic.

I'd expect that there may be the patter of tiny feet in the Bentham household in nine months time, with one parent being a mystery man from Wigan. After all he let them have everything else today!


Please vote for your Man-of-the-Match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Warriors
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Tomkins, S.
23
Jones-Bishop
1
25
Charnley
1
19
Watkins
12
Tomkins, J.
1
12
Ablett
1
4
Carmont
5
Hall
2
5
Richards
4
13
Sinfield
1
6
Deacon
6
McGuire
17
Finch
8
Leuluai
15
Lima
2
9
Buderus
7
Leuluai
1
10
Peacock
10
Coley
11
Jones-Buchanan
11
Hansen
3
Delaney
16
Hoffman
20
Hauraki
13
O'Loughlin
7
Burrow
9
McIlorum
21
Clarkson
14
Prescott
16
Bailey
22
Farrell
17
Kirke
21
Mossop

Kick Off:
14:30
Half-Time:
10-16
Referee:
Phil Bentham
Crowd:
78,482


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