HISTORY WAS made 14 years ago today when Leeds Rhinos overpowered Widnes Vikings 48-24 at Headingley.
Under Tony Smith, Rhinos were emerging as the outstanding team in Super League and at the heart of that was young stand-off Danny McGuire. He went on to end the campaign with a career-best 39 tries in 30 appearances and five of those came in the win over Widnes. It was the most tries scored in a game by a Leeds player since Del Hodgkinson crossed six times in a Yorkshire Cup first-round win over Huddersfield in August, 1958.
The previous time a Leeds man had scored five in a league game was in November 1955, when Drew Turnbull went nap against Batley at Headingley.
McGuire’s superb effort equalled the Super League record for tries in one game and it was also a memorable evening for recent signing Ali Lauitiiti who scored his first try for Rhinos. Leeds were eventually too good, but they had to overcome a tenacious Widnes side who went ahead inside the opening two minutes when Simon Finnigan crossed for the opening try, touching down a kick by Stephen Myler who added the first of three conversions.
Rob Burrow sent Mark Calderwood in for an unconverted try on four minutes, but Myler extended Widnes’ lead with a penalty goal. Leeds levelled the scores through Calderwood who finished off some outstanding handling by Lauitiiti, making his first Rhinos start, but Nicky Royle scored Widnes’ second try just before the half hour mark.
That edged the visitors back in front, but Leeds were 26-12 ahead by half-time thanks to two superb individual efforts by McGuire and a Lauitiiti touchdown, all converted by Dave Furner. Chris Giles scored a converted try at the start of the second half, but Burrow darted over and McGuire completed his hat-trick.
Giles’ second try checked Rhinos’ stride before Keith Senior created a fourth touchdown for McGuire and the stand-off went in for his fifth following a run by Jamie Jones-Buchanan. Furner added two second-half goals and Burrow converted the final try.
Leeds Rhinos 48 (Tries McGuire 5, Calderwood 2, Burrow, Lauitiiti. Goals Furner 5, Burrow)
Widnes Vikings 24 (Tries Giles 2, Finnigan, Royle. Goals Myler 4)
Super League, June 11, 2004
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Calderwood, Cummins, Senior, Bai, McGuire, Burrow, McDonald, Diskin, McDermott, Lauitiiti, Poching, Furner. Subs Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Feather, Bailey.
Widnes Vikings: Bird, Royle, Moule, Hughes, Giles, Finnegan, Myler, Mills, Millard, O’Neill, Wozniak, Hay, Frame. Subs McCurrie, Rowlands, Hobson, Weston.
Referee: Ian Smith.