Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Fateful day for stalwart Senior in an otherwise routine Rhinos cup win

Keith Senior is tackled by Tony Clubb and Luke Gale.
Keith Senior is tackled by Tony Clubb and Luke Gale.
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ONE OF Super League’s great careers came to an end five years ago this week.

Leeds Rhinos’ routine 40-20 Challenge Cup win over Harlequins at Headingley proved to be Keith Senior’s final game.

The centre was making his 365th appearance for Leeds, all but two of those in the starting line-up, since joining them from Sheffield Eagles late in the 1999 season.

He had scored 171 tries in blue and amber and was just eight short of 1,000 career points (547 starts, 13 substitute appearances, 248 tries) when disaster struck.

The veteran former Great Britain man suffered a right knee injury in a tackle with around five minutes remaining.

He refused a stretcher and hobbled off, but was later diagnosed with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, which required several operations after infection set in.

Senior was released by Leeds later in the season and signed for Crusaders, but that fell through when they withdrew their application for a new Super League licence, so he never played again.

The fifth-round tie, on May 20, 2011 was an unspectacular end to Senior’s record-breaking career.

The centre, who had played more Super League games than anyone else, was Leeds’ second-highest metre-maker, behind his winger Ryan Hall and also chipped in with 22 tackles, but did not get across the whitewash.

Rhinos, bidding for a second successive Wembley appearance, trailed for a spell in the first half, but Harlequins – who included four ex-Leeds players – could not repeat their league win at Headingley in Super League round three.

Zak Hardaker gave Leeds an early lead, but Chris Melling, Luke Dorn and former Rhino Mark Calderwood touched down for the visitors to threaten a shock.

Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Brett Delaney and Ali Lauitiiti crossed in the final 10 minutes of the half to send the hosts in at the break with a 22-4 lead.

Kylie Leuluai and Hall made the game safe before Ben Bolger responded for Harlequins and Luke Gale booted his second conversion.

Chris Clarkson scored Leeds’ and the game’s final try, with Kevin Sinfield adding the extras for the sixth time.


Leeds Rhinos 40

(Tries: Hardaker, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Lauitiiti, Leuluai, Hall, Clarkson. Goals: Sinfield 6)

Harlequins 20
(Tries: Melling, Dorn, Calderwood, Bolger. Goals: Gale 2)

Challenge Cup round 5, May 20, 2011

Leeds Rhinos: Smith, Hardaker, Delaney, Senior, Hall, Sinfield, Burrow, Leuluai, Buderus, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Clarkson, Ablett. Subs Lauitiiti, R Bailey, Kirke, McShane.

Harlequins: Dorn, Melling, Howell, Clubb, Calderwood, Gale, C Bailey, Temata, Randall, Ward, Burnett, Wilkes, Krasniqi. Subs Ellis, Ambler, Williams, Bolger.

Referee: Ben Thaler.

Attendance: 7,147.