LEEDS RHINOS’ generosity came back to bite them 12 years ago today.
Table-topping Rhinos seemed on course for a routine victory at London Broncos when their own player, Liam Botham, turned the game on its head and secured a shock point for the hosts.
Botham – son of cricket legend Sir Ian – achieved the remarkable feat of having played County Championship cricket, Premiership rugby union and Super League when he made his Rhinos debut in 2003.
The following year he was loaned to London to continue his rugby league development, without a clause in the deal preventing him playing against his parent club.
Leeds had won all but three of their previous 20 games when they visited Brentford’s Griffin Park on July 18, but Botham was London’s hero as they snatched an unlikely 36-36 draw.
London started brightly and took an early lead through a try by Nigel Roy, but Danny McGuire got Rhinos on the scoreboard with a touchdown from Rob Burrow’s kick and then Marcus Bai powered over twice in three minutes at the end of the opening quarter.
Lee Greenwood pulled a try back for London and though Wayne McDonald replied almost immediately, the hosts added a third touchdown through John Kirkpatrick and then Mark O’Halloran crossed.
Leeds led 24-18 at half-time and came out for the second period with all guns blazing, running in two tries in six minutes, through Kevin Sinfield and Chris McKenna.
The captain took his tally of conversions to six to make it 36-18 and it stayed that way until the 61st minute when Dennis Moran pulled a try back for Broncos.
With 11 minutes left Botham, playing in the second-row, went over for the capital outfit’s sixth try and they cut the deficit to just two points when Lee Greenwood crossed at the corner deep into stoppage time.
Botham had taken over kicking duties after Paul Sykes had missed twice early in the game. With three goals already to his name he kept his nerve and landed a sensational touchline conversion with the final kick of the match to snatch a deserved point, one of only six dropped by Leeds all season.
Despite the result it was a memorable day for Carl Ablett, who came off the bench for his Rhinos debut.
London Broncos 36
(Tries: Greenwood 2, Roy, Kirkpatrick, O’Halloran, Moran, Botham. Goals: Botham 4)
Leeds Rhinos 36 (Tries: Bai 2, McGuire, McDonald, Sinfield, McKenna. Goals: Sinfield 6).
July 18, 2004, Super League
London Broncos: Sykes, Greenwood, Jackson, Roy, Kirkpatrick, O’Halloran, Moran, Trindall, Budworth, Moore, Botham, Hart, Retchless. Subs: Highton, Stringer, Stephenson, Purdham.
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Cummins, Walker, McKenna, Bai, McGuire, Dunemann, Bailey, Burrow, McDermott, Lauitiiti, Adamson, Sinfield. Subs: McDonald, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett.
Referee: Ian Smith.