THE STONES Bitter Championship table had a familiar look to it 26 years ago, with Wigan top, Leeds second and St Helens in third.
Leeds had won eight of their nine games and were just two points behind Wigan, with a match in hand.
Their eighth victory of the season came on November 19 at Headingley, when Widnes – the world champions – were beaten 26-12 in a game which Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Trevor Watson described as “savage and spectacular”.
Leeds’ in-form prop Hugh Waddell was victim of the unsavoury aspect of the contest, suffering a broken jaw in a foul by Widnes second-row Paul Moriarty, who was sent-off after just 14 minutes.
That raised the temperature and the rest of the first half was played at boiling point.
The game eventually erupted into a mass brawl and police had to intervene to calm things down.
Leeds’ Craig Izzard and Joe Grima, of Widnes, were sin-binned and there was another yellow card in the first half when home player Paul Delaney fouled Alan Tait.
Eventually, after all the mayhem, a game of rugby broke out and there were just three penalties in a much calmer second half.
It was Leeds’ fifth straight win and they took full advantage of their extra player.
In front of a crowd of 14,071, Dave Heron, Gary Divorty and Craig Coleman called the shots for Leeds – who led 10-8 at half-time – and Izzard and Paul Dixon also had big games up front.
Heron – named at stand-off, but playing for most of the time in the back-row – was the star of the show, scoring two tries and making the break which led to Garry Schofield’s sixth try in three games.
Widnes’ most eye-catching performance came from winger Martin Offiah.
He bagged a brace of tries, both converted by Jonathan Davies, but was denied a hat-trick by a sensational tackle from Phil Ford.
Gary Lord and Izzard were Leeds’ other try scorers and Colin Maskill kicked three goals.
Leeds 26 (Tries: Heron 2, Schofield, Lord, Izzard. Goals: Maskill 3)
Widnes 12 (Tries: Offiah 2. Goals: Davies 2)
Stones Bitter Championship November 19, 1989
Leeds: Wilson, Ford, Schofield, Gibson, Fawcett, Heron, Coleman, Waddell, Maskill, Dixon, Powell, Izzard, Divotry. Subs: Lord, Delaney.
Widnes: Tait, Kebbie, Currier, Devereux, Offiah, Davies, D Hulme, O’Neill, McKenzie, Grima, Moriarty, Smith, P Hulme. Subs Marsh, Critchley.
Referee: Ray Tennant.