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Gutted
Posted by southstander on July 27 2008 - 09:59:49

Gutted

League position, winning run, recent history, points scored all suggested a win for the defending Challenge Cup winners, but still the heart held a belief that the underdogs could take the spoils and make it to Wembley to face Wakefield or Hull on the 30th August.

As a massive Rhinos following filled the stadium we were stunned by the news that hugely influential Brent Webb had failed a late fitness test, perhaps the writing was already on the wall.

We bring you all of the action here......

16

Rhinos

v

Saints

26

Carnegie Challenge Cup

Semi-Final - Galpharm Stadium

26th July 2008

Gutted

Leeds obviously lost the toss and were facing into the sun in the sweltering couldron that was was mid-day Huddersfield. Lee Smith was picked at full-back in Webbs absence and the Rhinos were without Bailey and Jones-Buchanan (both also injured). Saints were named without Paul 'Biscuit' Sculthorpe but on paper they looked the stronger side. The Rhinos fans raised the volume as Sinfield got the game under way.

Good early use of the football saw Leeds dominate and as early as the fifth minute we looked to have gone over as Donald passed inside to Burrow. The referee immediately ruled out the try and a closer look at the video revealed that Donald had stepped into touch before passing. On seven, instead of being six points ahead we were six down. A high Leeds tackle gave Saints good metres and Sean Long dropped the shoulder to slice through the Rhinos defence before a short pass put Flannery over from five metres. Long added the extras but Leeds were very much in the game, one indiscretion had cost us.

On eighteen minutes disaster struck as key playmaker Rob Burrow went into a tackle awkwardly and didn't get up. Klein allowed play to continue for thirty seconds before stopping the game and allowing Burrow to be treated. As Rob was helped from the field Leon Pryce looked to have scored but dropped the ball over the line. We breathed a sigh of relief but an already uphill struggle was made even more difficult by the loss of the GB scrum-half.

On the half-hour Sinfield reduced the deficit by two with a penalty goal after Smith had been tackled high by Roby.

With five minutes of the half remaining Saints extended their lead. Toopi was lying injured and motionless in back play as Klein allowed the action to continue. Pryce found a gap in the twelve man Leeds defence and went ten metres to score next to the right hand upright. Long added the extras for 12-2.

With second left Leeds were awarded a penalty on half-way and Sinfield went for goal but was short and wide, allowing Saints to kill the ball and take up into half-time.


No Spark

We were ten points down, but with the conditions and injuries racking up it already looked a long way back. We could do it, we'd seen that last week in France, but this was the Saints - a far tougher proposition.

Seven minutes into the second half and the game appeared to get beyond us. Woeful Leeds tackling allowed Wilkin to walk home and touch down under the sticks. Longs extras gave Saints a sixteen point lead at 18-2. We needed a miracle.

Then Leeds seemed to step up a gear and hit a rich vein of form. On fifty-four Ali went over from acting half-back after Senior had just gone close and Sinfield added the extras for 18-8. Three minutes later and a Sinfield high kick forced a Saints knock-on. From the resulting scrum Leeds moved the ball left and Donald crossed in the corner. Sinfield slid the convesion wide but the margin was down to a converted try at 18-12.


Hard Work
Leeds were on a roll, and there was some hope back in the side and amongst the fans, but then a refereeing blunder killed the momentum.

As Leeds pushed again, Lee Smith was pushed to the ground in the act of playing the ball. Klein penalised Leeds and Long gained good field position. Leeds indisciplince caught hold and another penalty followed which Long goaled to once again stretch the lead to eight.

From attack, and the chance to draw level, to conceeding two points on the blow of a referees whistle - now the game was over.

On seventy, Saints sensation Hargreaves went through a gap in a now exhausted and disillusioned Leeds defence to extend the lead and with Longs goal it was 26-12.

Klein then set about trying to level the very lop-sided penalty count by awarding Leeds three in quick succession (now the game was over) and from the third of these Leuluai went over for a consolation try not converted by Kevin Sinfield. The final score of 16-26 saw Saints through to their third consecutive final and the Rhinos season lying in tatters.

We were outplayed, and out disciplined by a well drilled Saints outfit. Leeds lacked spark, imagination and that little bit of luck that could have seen us continue the fightback which had seen us get within a converted try. In the end we simply weren't good enough.

This will take some picking up for the run in and the quest for vengeance at Old Trafford, starting at Warrington next saturday night.


Please vote for your Man-of-the-Match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Saints
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
5
Smith
1
Wellens
2
Donald
1
2
Gardner
3
Toopi
3
Gidley
4
Senior
4
Talau
22
Hall
5
Meli
6
McGuire
6
Pryce
1
7
Burrow
7
Long
5
8
Leuleui
1
17
Graham
9
Diskin
9
Cunningham
10
Peacock
18
Hargreaves
1
14
Lauiti'iti
1
11
Gilmour
12
Ellis
12
Wilkin
1
13
Sinfield
2
16
Flannery
1
17
Scruton
14
Roby
19
Ablett
21
Clough
18
Kirke
23
Fa'asavalu
28
Worrall
10
Cayliss

Kick Off:
12:35
Half-Time:
2-12
Referee:
Ashley Klein
Crowd:
19,842


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