Leeds Rhinos nostalgia: When Les Dyl’s late try won the Yorkshire Cup for Leeds Rhinos
FORTY SIX years ago today, Leeds won a major trophy on home soil in front of a crowd of fewer than 6,000.
Up until the early 1990s, rugby league’s first domestic silverware was handed out in the autumn when the County Cup finals were staged.
Leeds were the dominant side east of the Pennines, winning the trophy a record 17 times – five more than nearest challengers Huddersfield.
The city was also a regular venue for the final, which was staged 46 times at Headingley and Elland Road on six occasions.
That sometimes gave the Loiners home advantage in the big game, which was the case on November 15, 1975.
The final was the ninth time Leeds had played Hull KR in the competition.
The Robins had been drawn away for all eight previous meetings and when they would have expected a neutral venue, the competition organisers insisted on Headingley because of its corporate facilities.
Remarkably, for a major final, a crowd of only 5,693 turned up to see Leeds’ crowned Yorkshire Cup champions for the 13th time, following a dramatic 15-11 victory.
Leeds’ hero was centre Les Dyl, who raced out of acting-half to score the decisive try with just three minutes remaining, after Rovers – the defending champions following their win over Wakefield Trinity at Headingley the previous year – had led 11-9.
John Holmes added the extras and rounded off the scoring with a drop goal in the final moments.
Leeds were backing up from a home defeat by Hull in a JP Competition second round replay just two days earlier and fielded an under-strength side.
With Keith Hepworth injured, player-coach Syd Hynes switched from centre to scrum-half to take care of Rovers’ dangerman Roger Millward.
It was the first of Hynes’ seven finals as Leeds coach, all of which they won.
Hull KR had the consolation prize of the man of the match award which went to Neil Fox, who scored a try and two goals.
Millward added a drop goal for the Robins who had opened the scoring through a Clive Sullivan try, but trailed 7-3 at the interval after Phil Cookson touched down for Leeds and Holmes converted and then added a penalty goal.
The lead changed hands five times, with Holmes kicking another penalty before Dyl’s late winner.
The Loiners went on to retain the trophy the following year with a win over Featherstone Rovers at Headingley. They won the trophy for the first time in 1921, beating Dewsbury 11-3 at Thrum Hall in Halifax, after failing to reach any of the previous 13 finals.
Leeds’ last County Cup success was a 33-12 defeat of Castleford in front of a 22,000 crowd at Elland Road, when Garry Schofield scored two tries.
Leeds’ other centre that day was David Stephenson, who completed a clean sweep of domestic honours after winning every other major trophy – including the Lancashire Cup – with his previous club Wigan.