Like scoring for Leeds United - Leeds Rhinos legend Jones-Buchanan recalls his favourite game

The closest I'll get to scoring a goal at Elland Road.

By Peter Smith
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 6:00 am

That is how Leeds Rhinos stalwart Jamie Jones-Buchanan remembers the personal highlight of his favourite match.

The second-rower, now an assistant-coach at Leeds, starred when Rhinos beat

Australian champions Melbourne Storm at Elland Road in the 2008 World Club Challenge.

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This huge hit by Jamie Jones-Buchanan on Melbourne's Steve Turner swung the 2008 World Club Challenge Rhinos' way. Picture by Sarah Washbourn.

Unlike the win against Canterbury Bulldogs on the same ground three years earlier, Jones-Buchanan didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he did make a key contribution to Rhinos’ 11-4 success.

Leeds were trailing 4-2 and under the pump in the first half, having lost Danny McGuire to a shoulder injury, when Jones-Buchanan got their chins off the floor with a huge hit on Storm winger Steve Turner.

“Throughout my career I didn’t get many big shots,” Jones-Buchanan – who retired as a player at the end of last season – recalled.

“I suppose it’s nothing to be proud of, the fact it was a winger, but I ended up bashing him.

Scott Donald scores Rhinos' try. Picture by Sarah Washbourn.

“It was right in front of the Revie Stand and I remember the crowd going up like I’d scored a goal.

“It was an experience which I suppose is as close as I am ever going to get to scoring a goal at Elland Road.”

The forward’s defensive bellringer turned the game.

Rhinos scored a try through Scott Donald just before the break and two Kevin Sinfield goals and a one-pointer – to add to his first half penalty – sealed a momentous win.

Rhinos celebrate with the trophy. Picture by Steve Riding.

Jones-Buchanan, now 38, said: “Despite all the Grand Finals, that was the one I really enjoyed being a part of.

“It was a real war, like being one of the Spartans in the film 300.

“It was a great Melbourne side and I am a big Leeds fan so playing at Elland Road was quite important for me.

“It was a nice thing, in a match where we could become world champions.

“We’d already done it against Canterbury Bulldogs, but I remember going out to warm-up in 2008 and all the cones were disappearing into a vortex of wind.

“It was a real war of attrition and we won so that was one of those games you come away from feeling like a bit of a hero.”

The world title match was watched by a huge crowd of 33,204 despirte appalling conditions.

The wind and rain limited free-flowing rugby and the two sides made a combined total of more than 800 tackles.

“When we played them again in 2018, over there there were a few press conferences talking about previous meetings,” Jones-Buchanan added.

“When I went through the 2008 team – Clinton Toopi, Brent Webb, Scotty Donald, the forward pack we had – I remember thinking ‘wow – we had a right side out’.

“That’s what it took to beat a quality Melbourne team and I suppose the horrendous weather and hostile environment for them probably spurred us on.

“We only won by the skin of our teeth still, but it did give me a reason to think I have been fortunate to play in some pretty good teams over the years.”

Jones-Buchanan rates that Elland Road victory more highly than the 2005 one “because it was Melbourne and I played a bigger part in that game”.

Of Leeds’ first world title win, he reflected: “That was special because I scored a try, all be it I didn’t make any metres – I just dived on a loose ball.

“They are all worth four points and they all go towards winning. I remember before it being scared to death because everyone talks up the NRL teams – and we were 26-6 up at half-time!

“A rampant Sonny Bill Williams got them back into it and I remember thinking in the last three or four minutes we weren’t going to hang on, but we did. The Melbourne one, though, for me was a special one.”

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