THE LAZENBY Cup – which was played yesterday – has become a regular feature in Leeds’ rugby league calendar since the pre-season fixture was revived in 2004.
But it is 22 years since Leeds and Hunslet last met in a competitive game and that Yorkshire Cup first round derby, played on September 13, 1992, almost produced an enormous upset.
Leeds had high hopes of competing for the Division One title in 1992-93, while Hunslet were a Division Three club, alongside the likes of Highfield, Chorley, Blackpool Gladiators and Nottingham City.
Leeds lost their opening two games of the season, to St Helens and Halifax, but were still expected to blow Hunslet away and things went to plan for the opening 24 minutes as the home team raced into a 20-0 lead.
But then the wheels came off and Hunslet staged an astonishing fightback, getting to within four points of Leeds before a late touchdown sealed a 28-20 success for the Loiners.
Star man for Hunslet was scrum-half James Lowes. His performance caught the eye of Leeds coach Doug Laughton, who signed him soon afterwards.
Coached by Paul Daley, Hunslet got on the scoreboard through Ian Rose and then David Brook’s pass sent Aussie Paul Beath over.
It was 20-10 at the interval and Andy Bartliff’s try cut the deficit further. Though Leeds responded when Craig Innes crossed, Brook’s try and Andy Precious’ second goal had home fans biting their nails until Paul Dixon touched down to seal the win as the Loiners managed to step up a gear in the closing stages.
Ellery Hanley and Alan Tait were Leeds’ two best performers, though overall it was a scrappy display marred by some poor finishing.
Hanley scored two tries in Leeds’ fast start and rugby union convert Jim Fallon registered his first touchdown for the club.
Garry Schofield was the other try scorer and he also landed two goals in front of a crowd of 5,952.
The victory over Hunslet was Leeds’ last in the Yorkshire Cup, which was axed at the end of that season. They were drawn away to bogey club Hull in the second round and went out 26-16.
Leeds were the most successful club in the Yorkshire Cup’s 87-year history, with 17 wins from 22 appearances in the final.