April 13 proves unlucky for Leeds Rhinos over Super League era
IN APRIL, 13 has been an unlucky number for Leeds Rhinos throughout the Super League era.
Leeds have played four Super League matches on April 13 and lost them all.
Their only victory on this date during the summer era was eight years ago, when they survived a scare to beat Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in a Challenge Cup fourth-round tie at Headingley.
Wakefield were 12-6 ahead at half-time before Leeds put their foot down and scored 32 unanswered points to guarantee their place in the next round.
There was bad luck for Rhinos’ Rob Burrow who clashed heads with Trinity hooker - and his future Leeds team-mate - Paul Aiton and suffered a cheekbone injury which kept him out of the team for three matches.
Kyle Amor and Danny Kirmond scored first-half tries for the visitors either side of a rare touchdown by Leeds’ Ryan Bailey.
Danny McGuire returned to Rhinos’ side after a four-game lay-off and began the scoring after the break. Zak Hardaker crossed for a seventh-successive game and added another before Carl Ablett, Paul McShane and Ben Jones-Bishop completed Leeds’ try tally and Kevin Sinfield added his fifth goal. Isaac John grabbed a late consolation for Trinity and Paul Sykes booted his third conversion.
But Super League matches on this date have been a tale of woe for Leeds, starting in 1996 when they were beaten 25-16 by Oldham Bears in a Saturday-evening match at Watersheddings. It was Leeds’ fourth defeat in as many games at the start of the first Super League campaign, though Barrie McDermott made a fight of it after coming off the bench to face his hometown club.
The visitors trailed 17-0 at that stage, but cut the gap to one point before a penalty and converted try saw Oldham home.
The penalty came after Leeds’ full-back Anthony Gibbons - now an assistant-coach with Rhinos’ women’s side - was controversially sin-binned by referee John Connolly for a what seemed to be a one-on-one ball steal.
Leeds’ George Mann later picked up a three-match ban for a foul on John Clarke. Kevin Iro scored two of Leeds’ tries, Jim Fallon got the other and Graham Holroyd kicked two goals.
Rhinos’ next Super League match on April 13 was in 2006 when Brett Ferres - later to win a Grand Final as a Leeds player - broke their hearts with a try in the final seconds to hand Bradford Bulls a 20-18 win.
Leeds led the Good Friday derby 18-16 through tries by Gareth Ellis, Rob Burrow and Richie Mathers, plus three goals from Burrow. Former Leeds duo, Iestyn Harris and Marcus Bai ,were among Bulls’ try scorers in front of a crowd of more than 17,000.
Salford City Reds had never beaten Leeds in Super League when they visited Headingley exactly three years later, but broke their duck with a shock 30-20 win.
Leeds’ third-successive defeat came despite tries by Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Hall, Keith Senior and Jamie Peacock. Kevin Sinfield kicked two goals.
Rhinos were 22-6 down at half-time, but rallied to trail by four points with seven minutes left, only for Jordan Turner’s interception try to end the fightback.
A late collapse condemned Rhinos to a costly 9-8 home defeat by Wigan Warriors two years ago today.
Leeds had been beaten only twice in their nine previous Super League games that season and were on course for a win when they led 8-0 - though a Tom Briscoe try and two Kallum Watkins goals - with only nine minutes left. But Wigan’s Oliver Gildart crossed, Sam Tomkins converted from the touchline, levelled the scores with a penalty and won it through a late drop goal.
The result turned Leeds’ season and they slipped into the middle-eights Qualifiers after managing only two more league wins.
Wigan were crowned champions after beating Leeds 20-8 at Headingley. In front of 15,313 fans, John Bentley (pictured) scored Leeds’ try and Simon Irving kicked two goals.
Garry Schofield scored four tries as Leeds beat relegated Swinton 34-22 at Station Road. Carl Gibson ran in a hat-trick and David Stephenson kicked three goals. The crowd was just 1,849.
In-form Leeds picked up their third successive win when John Holmes and Mick Crane crossed in a 13-10 victory over Bradford Northern at Odsal. Chris Gibson kicked three goals and Holmes landed a drop. Leeds won their last eight games of the campaign, culminating in a Premiership Trophy final success against Northern.
Malcolm Davis, a winger signed earlier in the season from Bradford Northern, scored a hat-trick of tries in Leeds’ 39-7 home win over Dewsbury. Lewis Jones touched down twice and kicked six goals and Gordon Brown and Del Hodgkinson both also bagged a brace. Leeds had beaten Hull KR 51-5 at Headingley the previous day.
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