Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Disappointing farewell for coach Murray as Tigers stun the Rhinos

Graham Murray.
Graham Murray.
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Leeds Rhinos won their first silverware of the summer era in 1999, but the campaign ended on a downbeat note.

Graham Murray’s first game as Rhinos boss was a 15-12 Challenge Cup setback in February, 1998.

Francis Cummins.

Francis Cummins.

On September 24, 1999, he took charge of Leeds for the final time when they lost 23-16 to the same team at Headingley.

It was a poor end to a year which had begun so well. Leeds won the Challenge Cup, thrashing London Broncos 52-16 at Wembley and went 13 games unbeaten between May and July.

But they faltered in the final stages of the Super League campaign and finished third behind Bradford Bulls and St Helens, down one place on the previous year.

Rhinos were crushed 38-14 at Saints in a qualifying play-off and so faced fifth-placed Tigers – who had pulled off a shock elimination victory at Wigan Warriors – in a sudden-death tie.

Murray, who returned to his native Australia after the game, was upset with referee Stuart Cummings after a dramatic fightback came to nothing, but Tigers deserved their famous success.

They led 14-2 at the break through tries by Michael Eagar and Adrian Vowles – inside the opening 11 minutes – and three goals from Danny Orr, against a Iestyn Harris penalty.

The teams exchanged penalties after the break but the game seemed to be swinging Leeds’ way when Francis Cummins crossed twice in five minutes early in the final quarter and Harris converted both to level the scores.

Tigers were wobbling, but they refused to crack and Aaron Raper edged them back in front with a drop goal seven minutes from time, moments after Orr had sent a penalty kick wide.

Rhinos were pinned in their own half after the one-pointer and Cas sealed their place in the next round when Darren Rogers pounced on an error by Keith Senior and Dale Fritz went over from acting-half, Orr’s conversion completing the scoring.

MATCH STATS

Leeds Rhinos 16 (Tries: Cummins 2. Goals: Harris 4)

Castleford Tigers 23 (Tries: Eagar, Vowles, Fritz. Goals: Orr 5. Drop goal: Raper)

September 24, 1999, Super League elimination semi-final

Leeds Rhinos: Harris, Sterling, Senior, Godden, Cummins, Powell, Sheridan, Masella, Speak, Fleary, Morley, Farrell, Glanville. Subs: Jackson, McDermott, Hay, St Hilaire.

Castleford Tigers: Flowers, Gay, Maloney, Eagar, Rogers, Orr, Davis, Sampson, Raper, Sykes, Harland, Fritz, Vowles. Subs: Tonks, Hepi, Pickering, Wells.

Referee: Stuart Cummings.

Attendance: 16,912.

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