UNTIL THE start of Super League in 1996 Leeds and Featherstone Rovers were traditional and fierce rivals and trips to Post Office Road were never easy for the men in blue and amber.
Thirty one years ago today Leeds were involved in a typically tough battle at their West Yorkshire neighbours, hitting back from 12-6 down just after the break to win 20-18.
It was the fourth in what became a 10-match winning run for Leeds, but they had to dig deep and needed a fine performance after the break to end Rovers’ resistance.
Two tries in four second-half minutes turned the game Leeds’ way and Tony Currie (pictured, inset) was involved in both. The Australian centre carved out a touchdown for Neil Hague and then scored himself after Kevin Rayne split the defence, was ankle-tapped close to Rovers’ line, but slipped out an outstanding pass to Currie in support.
Rayne also crossed and Leeds’ first try was scored by Cliff Lyons, his 12th of the season.
Up front, Jeff Grayshon set the lead, but lack of support when he looked to get the ball free meant Leeds failed to turn pressure into points.
Deryck Fox was the star man for relegation-threatened Featherstone and had a hand in all three of their tries.
He scored the first, set up big front-rower Karl Harrison for the second and provided a kick to put John Gilbert over for the third.
Paul Lyman and Calvin Hopkins were also in good form for Rovers, but Leeds were deserved winners.
Though Gilbert’s late score set up a tense finish, Leeds dominated the final 10 minutes and had two tries disallowed, one for a forward pass and then Paul Gill – who kicked two goals – being held up over the line.
The gate of 3,114 was Rovers’ third-highest of the season. They eventually avoided the drop by three points, though there was controversy when their penultimate game – at Halifax, who needed a point to secure the title – finished in a 13-13 draw, amid allegations the hooter was blown at least three minutes early.
(Tries: Fox, Harrison, Gilbert. Goals: Quinn 3)
Leeds 20 (Tries: Lyons, Hague, Currie, Kevin Rayne. Goals: Gill 2)
January 12, 1986
Featherstone Rovers: Barker, Marsh, Quinn, Gilbert, Chappell (Mackintosh), Banks, Fox, Gibbins, Spurr, Harrison, Campbell (Clawson), Hopkins, Lyman.
Leeds: Gill, Smith, Creasser (Conway), Currie, Sharp, Hague, Lyons, Grayshon, Maskill, Powell, Kevin Rayne (Keith Rayne), Medley, Webb.
Referee: Gerry Kershaw.