Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Leeds see off Halifax in County Cup finale

John Atkinson.
John Atkinson.
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IT’S TOUGH enough facing a team from a higher division in a cup final, without having to play on their home ground.

That was the challenge facing second division Halifax in 1979, when they took on Leeds in the Yorkshire Cup’s showpiece, on October 27.

The Yorkshire Cup was introduced in 1905 and first won by Hunslet, who beat Halifax in the final at Park Avenue, Bradford.

The competition continued until 1992, but Wakefield Trinity’s win over Sheffield Eagles proved to be the last Yorkshire Cup game, both county cups being axed following complaints by clubs over a congested fixture list.

Leeds’ total of 17 wins was a record and their success against Halifax was the 15th time the club lifted the trophy.

The Loiners had done the hard work in the earlier rounds, beginning with a 26-14 home win over Castleford.

That was followed by a 29-6 success over Batley at Mount Pleasant, when current Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington scored two tries and four goals.

Wakefield were pipped 12-7 in a tense semi-final at Belle Vue, Leeds holding out under huge pressure in the second half after leading 12-2 at the break.

Leeds went into the final – their 11th in 15 seasons – on the back of three successive wins and proved too strong for the lower-division visitors, who were coached by future Loiners boss Maurice Bamford.

Headingley had already been chosen as the venue for the final, because of its corporate facilities and a shock never looked on the cards, though Halifax made Leeds work hard throughout.

Forwards Dave Heron, Steve Pitchford, Roy Dickinson and David Ward kept Leeds on the front foot, but it was winger Alan Smith who won the White Rose Trophy as man of the match.

He scored two fine tries, both from long passes by the impressive John Holmes and namesake David Smith also touched down for an interception try.

Kevin Dick booted three goals for Leeds, including two off the touchline, to complete a 15-6 victory.

Halifax trailed 10-6 at half-time, full-back Jimmy Birts kicking their three goals.

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MATCH STATS

Leeds 15

(Tries: A Smith 2, D Smith. Goals: Dick 3)

Halifax 6

(Goals: Birts 3)

Yorkshire Cup final, October 27, 1979

Leeds: Hague, A Smith, D Smith, Dyl, Atkinson, Holmes, Dick, Dickinson, Ward, Pitchford, Eccles, Heron, Cookson. Subs: Sanderson, Adams.

Halifax: Birts, Howard, Garrod, Cholmondley, Waites, Blacker, Langton, Jarvis, Raistrick, Wood, Scott, Sharp, Busfield. Subs: Snee, Callon.

Attendance: 9,137.

Referee: Mick Naughton.

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