LEEDS RHINOS and Bradford Bulls fans might enjoy seeing the other team struggle, but rivalry between West Yorkshire’s two big city clubs is good for the sport.
In the early years of this century derbies between Rhinos and Bulls were the biggest in Super League, producing huge crowds and nerve-shredding encounters.
One of those was staged at Odsal 18 years ago today. On July 30, 2000, Rhinos made the short trip to Bradford on the back of a 10-game winning run under coach Dean Lance.
The previous month had seen Bradford end Leeds’ reign as Challenge Cup holders, 24-18, in a hard-fought final at Murrayfield so revenge was the order of the day.
The long winning streak sent Rhinos into the Odsal showdown in confident mood, but Bulls knew a win would take them top of the Super League table.
In-form Leeds looked to be cruising when they led 20-8, but Bulls battled back to level the scores only for Adrian Morley to send Francis Cummins over for what proved to be the decisive try four minutes from time.
Henry Paul kicked Bradford ahead with a penalty goal after 17 minutes, but then Leeds’ pack began to get on top and the visitors snatched the lead when Graham Mackay created a try for Morley.
Scott Naylor’s converted try edged Bulls back in front, but crucially Keith Senior touched down just before the break to send Rhinos in with a 12-8 lead.
Iestyn Harris converted both Rhinos’ first-half tries, added a penalty soon after the interval and then sent Senior in for his second, which the Leeds captain also improved, to make it 20-8 after 53 minutes.
Bradford rallied and levelled the scores through two tries in three minutes around the hour mark by Robbie Paul and current Rhinos first-team coach James Lowes.
Paul Deacon added the extras to both, but Harris kicked Leeds back in front with a penalty goal and opened a two-score gap with the conversion after Cummins’ try.
That proved vital when Robbie Paul crossed in the final moments, Deacon’s fourth conversion completing the scoring in Leeds’ 28-26 triumph.
Bradford Bulls 26 (Tries: R Paul 2, Naylor, Lowes. Goals: Deacon 4, H Pau)
Leeds Rhinos 28 (Tries: Senior 2, Morley, Cummins. Goals: Harris 6)
July 30, 2000, Super League.
Bradford Bulls: Spruce, McAvoy, Naylor, Pryce, Vaikona, R Paul, H Paul, Anderson, Lowes, Fielden, Peacock, Forshaw, B Mackay. Subs: Brooker, Deacon, Smith, Brian McDermott.
Leeds Rhinos: Cummins, G Mackay, Blackmore, Senior, Pratt, Harris, Sheridan, Fleary, Jackson, Barrie McDermott, Morley, Barnhill, Hay. Subs: Mathiou, Powell, Sterling, Carvell.
Referee: Stuart Cummings.
Tomorrow marks the third anniversary of one of Leeds’ most convincing performances of recent seasons. Zak Hardaker, Joel Moon, Jamie Peacock and Kallum Watkins crossed and Kevin Sinfield kicked four goals in a 24-14 Challenge Cup semi-final win over St Helens at Warrington on July 31, 2015.
Six years ago today Ryan Hall scored a hat-trick of tries, but ended on the losing side at Belle Vue. Kallum Watkins also crossed and Kevin Sinfield added one goal in Leeds’ 38-18 defeat by Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Tries by Keith Senior and Chris Clarkson, pictured above, weren’t enough for Rhinos who were beaten 26-12 by visitors Wigan Warriors on this day in 2010. Kevin Sinfield landed two goals.
Rhinos’ Challenge Cup hopes were extinguished 12 years ago today when they were shocked 30-12 by Huddersfield Giants in a semi-final at Odsal. Willie Poching and Scott Donald were Rhinos’ try scorers and Kevin Sinfield kicked two goals.