IF THE video referee system had been in operation 33 years ago, Leeds’ passage to the John Player Trophy final would have been more comfortable.
The Loiners eventually beat Leigh 18-11 in a thrilling semi-final at Huddersfield’s Fartown ground on December 10.
But they had to fight back in the second half after Leigh winger Des Drummond was awarded a hugely controversial touchdown which edged his side ahead for the second time.
Drummond dived over at the corner, with his arms extended and clearly lost possession of the ball.
Referee Fred Lindop – to the anger of Leeds’ players and fans – awarded the score and Leigh led by three points.
At that stage it looked like Leeds would crumble, but recently-appointed coach Maurice Bamford had added new steel to his side and the injustice provoked a ferocious reaction.
After a disappointing start to the campaign, including a 54-4 loss at Castleford and 58-2 home defeat by Queensland, Leeds were on a three-match winning run and confidence was building.
The John Player Trophy was a realistic chance of silverware and Bamford’s men were in no mood to let it slip.
With John Holmes in outstanding form Leeds rallied and hit the front with seven minutes left when Paul Prendiville crossed.
And they wrapped up a deserved victory – and a place in the final against Widnes – in the 77th minute through a Keith Rayne try, which David Creasser converted.
Earlier Leigh looked to be heading for the decider at Wigan’s Central Park, hitting back from 2-0 down to lead by five points at the break.
Creasser booted Leeds ahead with a penalty goal, but Leigh responded through a try by Jeff Clarke, which John Woods converted.
Steve Donlan extended Leigh’s advantage with a drop goal midway through the half, but Leeds bounced back after the interval when Kevin Dick’s pass was finished by Rayne and Creasser tagged on the extras.
(Tries: Keith Rayne 2, Prendiville. Goals: Creasser 3)
Leigh 11 (Tries: Clarke, Drummond. Goal: Woods. Drop goal Donlan)
December 10, 1983. John Player Trophy semi-final
Leeds: I Wilkinson, Prendiville, Creasser, Bell, Andrew Smith, Holmes, Dick (Martin), Keith Rayne, Ward, Kevin Rayne, Moorby, Laurie (Squire), Webb.
Leigh: Hogan, Drummond, Woods, Worgan (Henderson), Fox, Donlan, Varley, Alexander, Ainsworth (Tabern), A Wilkinson, Potter, Clarke, Westhead.
Referee: Fred Lindop.