Leeds Rhinos: Brutal clash between old rivals saw Rhinos end their Wigan hoodoo

Francis Cummins.

Francis Cummins.

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A LIST of Leeds Rhinos’ top-10 Super League wins would have to include their 15-8 victory at Central Park 17 years ago this week.

Wigan’s home ground – now the site of a Tesco supermarket – had been Rhinos’ graveyard on many previous occasions.

Leeds’ record defeat, in terms of points conceded, was 74-6 at Central Park in 1992, when Martin Offiah scored 10 tries.

Rhinos’ visit on August 21, 1998, was their fourth of the summer era and the three previous games had been painful defeats.

In 1996 they were crushed 68-14 and they lost twice there in three weeks in 1997, conceding 38 points both times.

But Graham Murray was in charge in 1998 and he had already tasted victory at Central Park, with Hunter Mariners in the previous year’s World Club Championship.

And Rhinos had a side who were developing into genuine contenders for silverware. At the heart of that was a fearsome pack which made a mockery of Rhinos’ soft reputation.

A starting pack of Martin Masella, Terry Newton and Darren Fleary in the front-row and Adrian Morley, Anthony Farrell and Marc Glanville behind them was tough enough to intimidate any opposition.

Leeds had proved that when they beat Warriors 16-8 at home earlier in the year, which was was Wigan’s only defeat so far.

So they travelled with some hope. The first versus second clash proved to be a Super League classic and one of the most brutal matches played in the competition.

The tone was set from the kick-off when Adrian Morley smashed Wigan hooker Robbie McCormack, who had to go off.

Later, Morley returned a drop out and copped a forearm across the face from Mick Cassidy.

The Leeds man played on with an eye closed and was to have a key role in the winning try. That incident led to two of Leeds’ first half points, Iestyn Harris adding the penalty to an earlier drop goal to open a 3-0 interval lead.

Andy Farrell replied with a penalty, but then Francis Cummins – who was in prolific try scoring form – out-jumped Jason Robinson to touch down from a Harris bomb before Harris’ brilliant pass put the winger in again.

Neither touchdown was converted and Wigan hit back through Simon Houghton’s try, improved by Farrell.

That set nerves jangling among the visiting fans, but Rhinos sealed a famous victory in the closing stages when Morley squeezed out a pass to Brad Godden and he forced his way over.

MATCH STATS

Wigan Warriors 8

(Try: Houghton. Goals: Farrell 2)

Leeds Rhinos 15

(Tries: Cummins 2, Godden. Goal: Harris. Drop goal: Harris)

SUPER LEAGUE 
AUGUST 21, 1998

Wigan Warriors: Radlinski, Bell, Connolly, Moore, Robinson, Paul, Smith, Cowie, McCormack, Mestrov, Cassidy, Houghton, Andy Farrell. Subs: Johnson, Gilmour, Clarke, O’Connor.

Leeds Rhinos: Harris, Sterling, Blackmore, Godden, Cummins, Powell, Sheridan, Masella, Newton, Fleary, Morley, Anthony Farrell, Glanville. Subs: Holroyd, Mathiou, St Hilaire, Hay.

Attendance: 12,786.

Referee: Stuart Cummings.

Tom Briscoe

Leeds Rhinos: I will bounce back from poor show – Briscoe