MUDDY MARVELOUS was the verdict on Leeds Rhinos during this week a decade ago.
Rhinos got their home Super League campaign off to a winning start against the previous year’s Grand Final runners-up, Hull, on February 16, 2007.
But afterwards the main talking point was the state of the Headingley pitch.
Heavy rain fell throughout the day – on to an already heavy surface – and Rhinos’ grounds staff had to remove three-quarters of an inch of water from the pitch ahead of kick-off.
That reduced the arena to a quagmire and the contest into a lottery. It was Rhinos whose numbers came up as they ploughed through the mud to an 18-4 victory.
It was far from a spectacle for the crowd of more than 18,000, the best for a league game between the sides in the summer era, but both sets of players gave their all.
Clinton Toopi opened the scoring with a try off good work by Matt Diskin and Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield’s touchline conversion made it 6-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Hull tried to break Rhinos in the middle of the field, but Leeds’ defence held firm and they survived three sets of six on their own line at one stage.
It remained 6-0 until the sixth minute of the second half, when Rhinos turned a setback into a try.
Sinfield missed with a penalty, but Hull full-back Shaun Briscoe put a foot over the dead ball line making the catch.
From the drop out, Burrow, Danny McGuire and Ali Lauitiiti worked the ball to Brent Webb and his pass sent Sinfield over.
The skipper also converted, but Hull gave themselves a chance on 58 minutes when Matt Sing splashed down after the ball had stopped in a puddle from Tommy Lee’s kick.
With Tickle unable to add the extras, Leeds still led by two scores and Hull never looked like turning the tide.
The game was made safe 10 minutes from time when Ryan Bailey held off the defence from close range and Sinfield’s third conversion completed the scoring.
Leeds Rhinos 18
(Tries Toopi, Sinfield, Bailey. Goals Sinfield 3)
Hull 4 (Try Sing)
super league February 16, 2007
Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Leuluai, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield. Subs Peacock, Tansey, Thackray, Lauitiiti..
Hull: Briscoe, Sing, Whiting, Yeaman, Raynor, R Horne, Lee, Dowes, Swain, Carvell, Tickle, McMenemy, Washbrook. Subs Godwin, G Horne, Maiava, Wheeldon.
Referee: Steve Ganson.