The YEP jury have their say ahead of Leeds Rhinos v St Helens and reflect on a Challenge Cup final victory to savour.
Leeds Rhinos – Challenge Cup Winners 2014. At last the ‘golden generation’ has captured the one honour that had eluded the club for so long.
It didn’t seem possible that this group of players could end their careers without gaining a Challenge Cup winner’s medal. They are too good a group of talented players for this to happen.
They have tried many times but often failed at the final hurdle. Last Saturday was different. Every one of the players came up with a magnificent performance to enable Kevin Sinfield to lift that trophy at last.
The whole team played their part. They controlled the game from beginning to end and never let Castleford adopt the expansive play that they have become known for this season.
The look of elation and joy on the Rhinos players’ faces at the end of the game was there for all to see.
As a supporter who has also been through so many years of disappointment, attending Challenge Cup finals at Murrayfield, Cardiff and Wembley I always hoped and believed that Sinfield, Leeds’ most successful captain, would one day lift that trophy.
I felt that the teams of the last 10 years have been too good for this not to happen eventually. It was great to be at the game to witness this historic win. This has completed the jigsaw for a number of the players who have now won every domestic honour within the game.
Fifteen years has been too long between Challenge Cup final wins, hopefully now Leeds have discovered how to win at Wembley it will happen more frequently in the years to come.
No supporter can question the pedigree of Brian McDermott as he becomes the most successful Leeds coach.
His resting of players is something that many fans have been calling for. The fact that points have been lost when this has happened is not down to team selection but team performance. These young players will have watched the Cup final and will have seen what it takes to win games such as this. If they want to be involved in these games in the future they need to learn lessons from their experiences this season.
What next for the Rhinos this year? There is still the possibility of doing the treble, although Leeds need other teams to fail and themselves to win every game for this to have any chance of happening.
St Helens are next up for the Rhinos. This is never an easy game, even against a team who have been decimated by injuries. I expect to see changes from the team that played in the final but they should still be capable of coming away with the two points.
Leeds Rhinos, Tetley’s Challenge Cup Winners 2014. It’s great to see this prestigious trophy back at Headingley after a long wait.
The ‘golden generation’ of players have been waiting far too long for that medal to add to the coveted collection. They finally have it.
The team looked very confident of getting the win in that first 40 minutes. We put one foot wrong which led to the Daryl Clark try. Ryan Hall showed how he is the World’s Best Winger by scoring not one, but two, what would be deemed as unscorable tries. He just steamrolled the Castleford defence.
I thought the whole team were phenomenal all game. But I have to pick out four players in particular, the two wingers, Tom Briscoe and Ryan Hall, who were all over the park, the amount of work they did in that game was second to none.
Full-back Zak Hardaker, who I think ran close for the man of the match, made plenty of metres and was ferocious in defence.
And Danny McGuire, did he put a foot wrong in the game? I don’t think he did. He got his token try against Castleford, his set plays were superb, Castleford couldn’t read any part of his game and he ran the show.
A tough St Helens side come to town tomorrow. We need to win to stay in contention for the league leaders’ shield, hopefully the guys can back up and get the points on the board.
Fifteen years, 15 long years we’ve had to wait for this one, but finally the Challenge Cup is back at Headingley.
After losing six previous finals Leeds managed it at the seventh time of asking and finally ended the hoodoo which has haunted them since 1999.
Cas players and fans should be proud of their efforts.
It was so frustrating sitting in the sun listening to the game over the radio, but thank God for Wi-fi.
Castleford made too many mistakes in the first half, but we did not let them play at all.
The way Ryan Hall just powered his way over to score simply summed up our first half dominance. A scoreline of 16-4 at the half-time interval was not flattering at all. Cas were always going to give it a big 20 minutes at the start of the second half, and they came out fighting for their lives.
But then Hall did it again – wow, best winger in the world. I was dancing about the pool, and like Brian McDermott at the end, I too had a tear in my eye.
Well what a weekend that was. I have watched the final a few times again already and the performance was outstanding from one to 17.
Pretty much mistake-free and executed with control and a massive desire to end the long wait.
To finally see the trophy being hoisted aloft by Kevin Sinfield was an emotional moment. This victory could now be the springboard to launch an attack on the two remaining trophies. At the homecoming you could sense the boys are not done yet.
I said last week it’s not in their DNA to give up and I think we are in for an exciting two months.
Let’s get behind them again and enjoy the ride.