Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Final flourish for Leeds legends Holmes and Ward with JPS triumph in 1985
AN ERA came to an end 35 years ago today.
When Leeds won the JPS Trophy, beating Widnes 18-10 on January 14, 1984, it was the last silverware collected by John Holmes and David Ward, two of the all-time greats.
The first final of the new year was the last hurrah of the Leeds team who had been consistent winners of silverware since the late-1960s.
Though Leeds went on to lift the Yorkshire Cup four years later, the next time they won a trophy competed for by all clubs was at Wembley in 1999.
A crowd of 9,536 – fewer than turned up for the recent Boxing Day game against Wakefield Trinity – watched Leeds extend their unbeaten run to nine games, in front of the live BBC TV cameras. A storm lashed the north west the night before the final the game was played with one goal post much shorter than the others, having been snapped off in the gale.
Leeds also failed to weather the early storm, going behind to Ralph Linton’s try which Mick Burke converted after just two minutes. Holmes played more games for Leeds than anyone else, winning the Challenge Cup twice and Championship once, plus seven Yorkshire Cups, two JP Trophies, the Floodlit Trophy and Premiership.
This was his last final and he went out with a bang, taking Dean Bell’s pass to score Leeds’ opening touchdown which David Creasser converted to add to a penalty goal a few minutes earlier.
Kevin Dick, another stalwart of the 70s and early 80s, added another touchdown, again improved by Creasser, but Joe Lydon pulled a try back to make it 14-10 at the break.
The only scoring in the second half was through two Creasser penalty goals and Leeds held on for a famous victory despite losing Ward late on to a rib injury.
He returned to lift the trophy, his last major honour for the club. Mark Laurie, a Grand Final winner for Parramatta four months earlier was man of the match.
Ward and Alan Smith had had a spell as caretaker coaches earlier in the season when Robin Dewhurst stepped down.
Maurice Bamford took over as team boss in November and was backed by some important signings. The cup win against Widnes was part of an 18-match sequence without defeat.
Leeds 18 (Tries: Holmes, Dick. Goals: Creasser 5)
Widnes 10 (Tries: Linton, Lydon. Goal: Burke)
January 14, 1984 JPS Trophy final, at Central Park, Wigan.
Leeds: Wilkinson, Prenderville, Creasser, Bell, Smith, Holmes, Dick, Keith Rayne, Ward, Kevin Rayne, Moorby, Laurie, Webb. Subs Hague, Squire.
Widnes: Burke, Wright, O’Loughlin, Lydon, Linton, Hughes, Gregory, O’Neill, lwell, Tamati, Gorley, Whitfield, Adams. Subs Myler, Prescott.
Referee: Billy Thompson.
ON THIS DAY
Leeds were beaten 24-8 at home by Bradford Northern in the preliminary round of the Challenge Cup 29 years ago today – so they failed to feature in round one for the first time in their history. Carl Gibson and Gary Divorty scored Leeds’ tries.
Terry Naylor scored two tries when Leeds beat Salford 26-9 at Headingley 39 years ago today. John Holmes, David Heselwood, John Atkinson and Steve Pitchford also touched down and Kevin Dick kicked four goals. The crowd was 3,734.
League leaders Leeds began 1967 with two one-point home wins, beating Bradford Northern 10-9 on January 7 and Featherstone Rovers 13-12 a week later. Try scorers against Rovers were John Atkinson, Syd Hynes and Ron Cowan and Bev Risman, pictured above, kicked two goals.
Australian centre Frank O’Rourke was Leeds’ top try scorer in 1927-28 with 20 tries. One of them came on January 14 in a 7-0 home win over Halifax. Dan Pascoe added two goals.
Anthony Farrell: Member of Leeds’ 1999 Challenge Cup final winning team, turns 50 on Thursday.