Leeds Rhinos Bygones: McLellan powers in for famous touchdown on way to Cup final glory

Lewis Jones of Leeds RL places the ball under the posts  at Headingley. He put the boot into Halifax on the way to Wembley in March 1957.
Lewis Jones of Leeds RL places the ball under the posts at Headingley. He put the boot into Halifax on the way to Wembley in March 1957.
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SIXTY YEARS ago, Leeds were determined to keep right on to the end of the road.

That was chorus of a folk song written and performed by Scottish singer and comedian Sir Harry Lauder and it became the anthem of the Loiners’ march to Wembley.

Willie Oulton

Willie Oulton

On March 9, 1957, Leeds took a significant step on the road with an epic 16-10 win over Halifax.

It was one of the most gritty victories in the club’s history, sealed by an epic touchdown in the final seconds.

Wigan were beaten 13-11 at Headingley in round one in front of a massive crowd of 38,914 and Leeds then saw off visitors Warrington 28-6 in a snowstorm to set up the trip to Thrum Hall.

Leeds were on a 14-match winning run, but had lost 11 of their 13 post-war games at Halifax and seemed to be on course for another defeat when they trailed 10-0 in the first half and by three points at the interval.

Daryl Powell

Daryl Powell

Garfield Owen opened the scoring with an early penalty goal for the home side and Leeds’ Lewis Jones missed with a couple of similar attempts before Halifax scrum-half Stan Kielty went over for the first try.

There was no conversion, but Leeds found themselves 10 points adrift after 20 minutes when Ken Traill touched down and Owen added the extras.

The crowd of 27,500 included an estimated 9,000 Leeds fans and they were given hope before half-time when Jones booted a penalty and then added the extras after Jack Lendill touched down.

Five minutes into the second half, Jones kicked another penalty to cut the gap to a single point and then he edged them in front in similar style with 13 minutes left.

Both teams had opportunities to grab the winning score in a frantic finale, but Leeds sealed a place in the semi-finals with a spectacular long-range try one minute from time.

Harry Street began the move with a run from close to his own line and, rather than taking the tackle to see out time, he slipped a pass to Del Hodgkinson.

The winger supplied Keith McLellan and he powered away for a famous touchdown, which Jones converted to complete the scoring.

Leeds went on to beat Whitehaven 10-9 in a tense semi-final at Odsal, thanks to Jeff Stevenson’s late drop goal and then lifted the Cup after a 9-7 victory over Barrow at Wembley.

STATS

March 9, 1957

Challenge Cup 
round three

Halifax 10

(Tries Kielty,Traill. Goals Owen 2). Halifax: Owen, Asquith, Daniels, Dean, Freeman, Broadhurst, Kielty, Thorley, Ackerley, Wilkinson, Pearce, Clifft, Traill.

Leeds 16

(Tries Lendill, McLellan. Goals: Jones 5).

Leeds: Quinn, Hodgkinson, McLellan, Jones, Broughton, Lendill, Stevenson, Anderson, Prior, Hopper, Poole, Robinson, Street.

Referee: DF Appleton.

Attendance: 27,500.

Flashback

2016

Leeds were within seconds of being nilled for the first time since 1998, but Zak Hardaker scored and converted a last-gasp consolation try in a 28-6 defeat at Wigan Warriors on March 11. It was Leeds’ fourth loss in five Super League games.

2013

Rhinos were crushed 32-8 at home by Huddersfield Giants four years ago today. Paul McShane scored Leeds’ only try and Kevin Sinfield landed two goals.

1999

Eighteen years ago yesterday Leeds battled to a 24-14 win at Gateshead Thunder in the north east club’s first Super League game. Iestyn Harris scored a try and four goals for Rhinos and Francis Cummins, Daryl Powell and Mac Glanville also crossed in front of a crowd of 5,960.

1980

Kevin Dick and Eddie Cunningham were sent-off as Leeds’ Championship hopes ended in a 22-8 loss to Leigh at Hilton Park 37 years ago tomorrow. John Atkinson and David Smith were Leeds’ try scorers and Willie Oulton landed a goal.

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