Leeds Rhinos Bygones: Emphatic victory over Warrington hints at Leeds’ title credentials

Paul Dixon
Paul Dixon
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IT WAS early days, but Leeds were beginning to look like possible title contenders 27 years ago today.

On November 2, 1989, Warrington travelled to Headingley as league leaders and were taken apart by an outstanding pack display.

The Loiners’ 30-6 success was their third successive win in Division One and moved them to within a point of the Wire.

After a disappointing start to the campaign, Leeds having lost 22-14 at home to Wakefield Trinity in their opening match, there was a growing sense of confidence around the club and the triumphant players were given a standing ovation at half-time and after the final whistle.

Star of the show was Australian forward Craig Izzard.

A stalwart for Penrith, Parramatta, Balmain and Illawarra in the Australian competition, he spent just one season at Leeds and this game was arguably his finest performance.

Switched from prop into the second-row, his powerful first-half runs created tries for Phil Ford and Dave Heron and his partnership with another Parramatta man, Mark Laurie, was too hot for Warrington to handle.

Izzard also produced a jarring tackle which forced Gary Chambers to lose possession in the second half, handing a simple touchdown to Carl Gibson, but the best was yet to come.

Late in the game he blasted 40 yards and then kicked ahead for Vince Fawcett to race through and score.

Leeds’ pack did not have a weak link and there were notable contributions from Hugh Waddell and Paul Dixon.

Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Trevor Watson felt some of Waddell’s runs were so good they took his team-mates by surprise, with several moves breaking down due to a lack of support.

Half-backs Craig Coleman and Heron made the most of space created by the forwards’ efforts and the latter was involved in one of the tries of the season.

Watson wrote: “Coleman was tremendous, organising in style and kicking with great accuracy. He helped provide the try of the night when he took Gary Divorty’s pass, sent a back flip which Divorty took one-handed to put substitute Richard Gunn between the posts.”

Colin Maskill kicked three goals for Leeds and John Bentley landed two. Tony Thorniley was Warrington’s try scorer, two minutes from time.

Leeds 30

(Tries: Ford, Heron, Gunn, Gibson, Fawcett. Goals: Maskill 3, Bentley 2)

Warrington 6
(Try: Thorniley. Goal: Turner)

Division one,
November 2, 1989

Leeds: Spencer, Ford, Bentley, Gibson, Fawcett, Heron, Coleman, Waddell, Maskill (Gunn), Dixon, Izzard, Laurie (Delaney), Divorty.

Warrington: Lyon (Darbyshire), Drummond, Ropati, Thorniley, Rudd, Turner, Bishop, Burke, Roskell, Molloy, Harmon, Sumner (Chambers), Sanderson.

Referee: Dave Asquith.

Attendance: 8,673.