Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: A magical Harris display and help from a young JJB, sees off Warriors

Iestyn Harris.
Iestyn Harris.
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CURRENT AND future stars shone for Leeds Rhinos in an epic win over Wigan Warriors on August 27, 1999.

Captain Iestyn Harris turned in a magical display in Leeds’ 28-22 victory and there was also a notable contribution off the bench from teenager Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

Then 18, the young forward had made his debut against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats three months earlier, but this was his first real test and he passed with flying colours.

Leeds had no right to win. The Challenge Cup holders were without seven first-choice players and included four teenagers in their 17.

It was their fourth game in two weeks and that sequence had begun with a dismal 21-20 defeat at Halifax Blue Sox.

They followed up by hammering Salford City Reds 50-16 and winning 30-18 at Gateshead Thunder, but most of the 15,835 crowd at Headingley thought Wigan would be too strong.

It looked that way when the visitors led by eight points mid-way through the first half, but Rhinos stepped up a gear after the break.

Harris produced one of his finest performances in blue and amber, scoring a world-class try and kicking four goals.

Equally impressive was veteran winger Paul Sterling, who did not score, but made a series of try-saving tackles and dazzling catches under high kicks.

Leeds’ third hero was forward Andy Hay, who rocked Wigan with a combination of rock-solid defence and adventurous running.

Wigan got the benefit of some debatable decisions early on, Paul Johnson scoring from what seemed to be a forward pass before the video referee awarded a try to Jason Robinson, despite an obstruction by Denis Betts.

Those touchdowns came either side of Francis Cummins’ opener for Leeds.

The speedy Leroy Rivett closed the gap with a long-range try and Harris’ magic sent them in ahead at half-time.

Brad Godden increased Leeds’ advantage and though Gavin Clinch pulled a try back, the hosts were in the driving seat when Ryan Sheridan went over.

A late try to Danny Moore set up a tense finish, but Rhinos held on for a deserved win which helped them pip Wigan for third spot in the final table.