LEEDS RHINOS produced one of their most memorable performances of the summer era 12 years ago on Friday.
Rhinos looked unstoppable when they demolished Bradford Bulls 42-12 at Odsal in a repeat of the previous season’s Grand Final.
The Easter Thursday derby, on March 24, 2005, attracted a huge 22,843 crowd and the visiting fans were treated to a Rhinos masterclass which left the Bulls battered and bewildered.
Leeds led only 12-6 at half-time, but cut loose in sensational fashion after the break when they added 30 points to inflict Bradford’s heaviest home defeat – at that stage – of the Super League era.
“I didn’t expect that scoreline,” Rhinos coach Tony Smith admitted afterwards.
“They threw a lot at us, but we were strong, fit and fast enough to come through.”
Bradford actually made the better start and went 6-0 ahead through a Karl Pryce try and Paul Deacon conversion.
That was after seven minutes, but Leeds were level by the end of the opening quarter, Andrew Dunemann creating a try for Chev Walker.
There was little in it for the rest of the half, but Leeds seized the initiative just three minutes before half-time when Gareth Ellis finished off a quality move involving Danny Ward and Richard Mathers.
Three minutes into the second period, the Bulls pulled a try back through Stuart Reardon and though Deacon failed to add the extras, he did level the scores with a penalty goal.
Two tries in three minutes put Leeds back in control. First Keith Senior went over after a one-two with Marcus Bai and then Kevin Sinfield and Liam Botham linked to send Rob Burrow in.
That made it 24-12 after 51 minutes and Leeds moved further clear at the end of the third quarter when Sinfield finished off Ellis’ break.
Mark Calderwood scored Leeds’ sixth try eight minutes from time to put the result beyond any doubt and Burrow’s second sealed matters six minutes later, Sinfield completing a perfect night with the boot when he landed his seventh conversion.
Remarkably, Leeds went from heroes to zeroes by losing their unbeaten record four days later, on Easter Monday, when Wakefield Trinity Wildcats romped to a shock 44-28 triumph at Headingley.
Bradford Bulls 12
(Tries: Pryce, Reardon. Goals: Deacon 2)
Leeds Rhinos 42 (Tries: Burrow 2, Walker, Ellis, Senior, Sinfield, Calderwood. Goals: Sinfield 7).
march 24, 2005
Bradford Bulls: L Pryce, Reardon, Langley, K Pryce, Vainikolo, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Meyers, Radford. Subs Ferres, Pratt, Lynch, Parker.
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Sinfield, Burrow, Bailey, Dunemann, Ward, Lauitiiti, McKenna, Ellis. Subs McDermott, Poching, Scruton, Botham.
Referee: Karl Kirkpatrick.