Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Hull FC defeat proved the end of the line for coach Dean Lance
Twice a Grand Final winner with Canberra Raiders, Lance coached Perth Reds and Adelaide Rams in the Australian version of Super League before being appointed by Leeds to take over from Graham Murray at the end of 1999.
Those were big shoes to fill and Lance never looked at home in England, despite taking Rhinos to a Challenge Cup final and a 13-match winning run at one stage.
Under Lance, Leeds lost their first five games of the 2000 Super League campaign, but also beat Featherstone Rovers, St Helens, Dewsbury Rams and Hull to reach a second successive Cup final.
They lost that, narrowly, to Bradford Bulls at Murrayfield, but eventually found their feet in the league.
A shock 26-19 victory over Wigan at Headingley was the first of 13 successive wins, during which Leeds beat all their top-flight rivals.
They lost five of their last seven games after that, but finished a respectable fourth in the league table.
Money was spent in the off-season as Kiwi Test star Tonie Carroll and Aussies Robbie Mears, Bradley Clyde and Brett Mullins were signed to spearhead a title push in 2001.
Rhinos thrashed Swinton 106-10 – a club record score – in the opening round of the Challenge Cup and also pulled off notable victories at Castleford and Hull before a semi-final loss to St Helens.
A week later Hull made the trip to Headingley, but by then injuries were beginning to pile up and eight of Leeds’ side that night were aged 20 or younger.
Leeds were without captain Iestyn Harris, who failed a pre-match fitness test, but Burrow was named on the bench and Rhinos had another debutant, Andy Kirk, at centre.
On a very wet night and a muddy pitch, Rhinos gave a good account of themselves and were 12-10 ahead at half-time, thanks to tries by Mears and Danny Ward and two goals from Kevin Sinfield.
Tony Smith bagged a brace of first-half tries for the visitors, one of them improved by Matt Crowther. Crowther and Deon Bird went over for Hull soon after the break and though Burrow’s pass sent Francis Cummins in for Leeds’ third touchdown with 18 minutes left, the visitors held on.
Lance was upbeat afterwards, talking of seeing light at the end of the tunnel with players beginning to return from injury.
However, just two days after the round four fixture Rhinos issued a statement saying the coach had left the club by “mutual consent”.
Daryl Powell, who had become head of youth after hanging up his boots at the end of the previous season, took over the hot seat. Powell’s first game in charge was another defeat, 36-6 at Warrington six days later.
There was only one encouraging moment for Leeds, when Burrow – making his first start – stepped through for a brilliant solo try. Powell picked up his maiden win as Leeds boss four days after that, on Easter Monday as Castleford were beaten 32-22 at Headingley.
Leeds Rhinos: Mullins, Calderwood, Kirk, Walker, Cummins, Sinfield, Pratt, Fleary, Mears, Ward, Farrell, Clyde, Hay. Subs: St Hilaire, Burrow, Wrench, Dowes.
Hull: Bird, Crowther, Maiden, Campbell, Raynor, Cooke, T Smith, Broadbent, Jackson, Felsch, Maher, Grimaldi, J Smith. Subs: Gene, Craven, Carvell, Parker.
Referee: Stuart Cummings.
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this story on our website. These are challenging times but the team at the Yorkshire Evening Post need your support more than ever in the weeks ahead.
While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you. In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you - wherever possible and providing it is safe for you to do so - to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper.
Inevitably falling advertising revenues will start to have an impact on local newspapers and the way we continue to work during this period of uncertainty. So the support of our readers has never been more important as we try to make sure that we keep you connected with the city you live in during this time. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. We need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.
Our team of trusted reporters are working incredibly hard behind the scenes- from kitchen tables and spare bedrooms - to look at how we can do this and your continued support to the YEP will help to protect its viability in the days and weeks ahead.
For more details on our subscription offers please visit www.localsubsplus.co.uk/YEP, email [email protected] or call us on 0330 4033004
Thank you, Laura Collins, Editor