Yesterday’s Challenge Cup Final between favourites, Leeds Rhinos and underdogs, Hull KR was not quite the ‘David and Goliath’ story that the fans and pundits had been hoping for in the lead up to the match. In reality, it was a 50-0 destruction whereby Leeds proved themselves to be the superior team in practically every aspect of the game in a fitting Cup send-off to soon-to-be-retired legends Jamie Peacock and Kevin Sinfield.
The build up to the match suggested something special was in the air, with Lizzie Jones (wife of the late welsh international Danny Jones) performing a beautifully moving rendition of ‘Abide by me’. This combined with the news that Hull KR scrum-half and star player, Albert Kelly was back to match fitness gave the Hull fans a sense of optimism; today might be an extraordinary day and the Kingstone Rovers might just topple the overwhelming favourites.
The Leeds Rhinos were quick to stifle their opponents’ dreams, as Loose Forward Brett Delaney went over for the team’s first try after just six minutes. Hull KR struggled to respond well to this early set-back, with the aggressive Rhinos defence effectively containing the threat posed by Albert Kelly and resulting in some poorly judged Hull KR kicks.
The rest of the half seemed to follow a certain pattern of the Rovers rarely making it near Leeds’s try-line (Hull had only 39 percent territory by the end of the first half) and when they did, making frustrating handling errors which resulted in opportunities for Leeds. When the Rhinos scored two successive tries in the 17th and 18th minute (one the result of some truly astounding offloading around the ruck area and the other thanks to a scintillating restart by the powerful winger, Ryan Hall) the first half was well and truly over for Hull KR, who did well not to concede any more points.
With the second half beginning at 16-0, Hull KR knew that this was going to be an uphill battle and yet still began poorly and put themselves under immense pressure. A rare moment of promising attack from the Kingstone Rovers resulted in Tom Briscoe intercepting a cross field kick and running the length of the pitch to make the score 22-0 after just 46 minutes. The match soon reverted into a pattern of Hull struggling to break down the formidable Leeds defence and the Rhinos punishing any mistakes with yet more tries, making the score 34-0 (and making it a hat-trick for the electric Tom Briscoe) as the game entered its final ten minutes.
In true Championship winning fashion, the Leeds Rhinos were ruthless and clinical until the very end, with the likes of Sinfield and Kallum Watkins creating opportunity after opportunity which the Rhinos were able to capitalise on, ensuring an astonishing 50-0 win in the Challenge Cup Final and a record breaking five tries for winger Tom Briscoe.
image credit: express.co.uk