IN RUGBY league’s summer era, which began in 1996, only 13 players have kicked a drop goal for Leeds.
Just one of those was an out-and-out forward and his one-pointer was landed in a remarkable game played 14 years ago today.
On June 15, 2001, Leeds Rhinos travelled to their Boulevard bogey ground for what was expected to be a routine pasting by hosts Hull.
Leeds were under-strength, missing seven first-choice players and including six who had graduated from the previous year’s academy side.
The hosts were near full-strength and attacked relentlessly throughout the first half, but – defending out of their skins – Rhinos restricted them to just one score.
In heavy rain, Leeds struggled to keep hold of the ball and got into their opponents’ 20 just twice before the break, so the plan after half-time was to come away with something if they did get close to Hull’s line.
A minute into the second half, with Leeds 6-0 down, substitute prop-forward Danny Ward – on his 21st birthday – snapped up a rebound from a Rob Burrow grubber kick and to the surprise and amusement of everybody in the ground – including himself – landed a perfect, right-footed drop goal.
Twenty minutes later Mark Calderwood came from nowhere to out-jump Chris Smith and touch down from Kevin Sinfield’s pin-point cross-kick.
Iestyn Harris landed a glorious touchline conversion and suddenly Leeds were ahead.
With four minutes to go, Harris landed an equally impressive long-range penalty goal and Rhinos sealed a sensational victory just two minutes after that.
Full-back Francis Cummins fielded David Maiden’s kick deep in Leeds territory, weaved across the Hull defence, burst through a gap and drew the cover before flipping out a perfect pass to Keith Senior who finished in style, Harris converting.
Cummins had earlier made the error which gifted Hull’s only try, spilling Jason Smith’s 17th-minute bomb leading to a scrum from which Tony Smith scooted over, Steve Prescott adding the extras.
“Leeds often get questioned in terms of spirit and attitude and application,” coach Daryl Powell said afterwards. “But everybody out there showed there’s plenty of that at Leeds.
“There were six people from last year’s Academy team and they were all outstanding, as was everyone on the field.
“It was a really significant win for us. We’ve shown we’ve got a depth of talent at the club.”
Hull FC 6
(Try: T Smith. Goal: Prescott)
Leeds Rhinos 15
(Tries: Calderwood, Senior. Goals: Harris 3. Drop goal: Ward)
super league June 15, 2001.
Hull: Prescott, C Smith, Bird, Campbell, Raynor, Horne, T Smith, Broadbent, King, Craven, Maher, Grimaldi, J Smith. Subs Maiden, Logan, Jackson. Unused sub Yeaman.
Leeds Rhinos: Cummins, Walker, Carroll, Senior, St Hilaire, Harris, Burrow, Dowes, Mears McDermott, Hay, Wrench, Sinfield. Subs Netherton, Diskin, Calderwood, Ward.
Referee: Ian Smith (Oldham).