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U21s Crowned As Champions
Posted by southstander on September 23 2005 - 10:08:58

Champions!
By Matthew Horton

Do or die time for the Leeds Rhinos Under-21’s as they faced up to the Widnes Vikings in the Senior Academy First Division Grand Final at Headingley last night.

A crowd of just over a 1,000 gathered at the ground tonight to see the second piece of silver wear land in the Headingley trophy cabinet this year.

We bring you all the action.

42

Rhinos

v

Vikings

12

Senior Academy

Grand Final

22nd September 2005

** Champions **

Leeds began attacking the Western end of the ground of the first half in superb conditions, a marked contrast to a fortnight ago when the teams met in the Major Semi-Final. It was Leeds who drew first blood of the encounter on six minutes when Jason Hart and Lee Smith did the groundwork and Ashley Gibson crossed in the North-West corner. He was unable to convert the try but Leeds had an early four-point lead.

Widnes looked to get back into the game but strong defence from the Rhinos, allied by some mistakes from the visitors helped Leeds escape. The Rhinos made the Vikings pay on 12 minutes when Jordan Tansey dummied the inside ball, the Vikings defence parted and the stand off flew in for try 25 of the season. Gibson was unable to add the extras but the Rhinos lead was doubled to 8-0.

The Rhinos were in again at quarter time, after Danny Williams has made a superb from a dangerous kick in the in-goal area, referee Merrick awarded the Rhinos a penalty for holding down. After starting on the Widnes 40, Iain Gordon tapped the ball, dummied and attacked the Widnes line, a couple of sidesteps later and the scrum half was in the clear and he ignored Chris Buttery on his inside to get over the line for a thrilling score. Jordan Tansey has the shot at goal but it was waved away by the touch judges to give the Rhinos a 12-0 lead.

Widnes hit back after 27 minutes, the Leeds defence had been under the gun for a while and Widnes took advantage of a sheer numbers game down the South side of the pitch as a long pass from Ryan Millington found Darren Woods and he had the simple task of putting Tom Draper in at the corner for a simple score. Paul Crook converted from wide out to bring the Vikings rights back in the game at 12-6.

Leeds hit straight back, the kick off was allowed to find the touchline by the try scorer Draper and from the resulting scrum Lee Smith took the ball from Murrell and set off on a arcing run to the Northern side. The full back got on the outside of the Widnes defence and showed great strength and determination to get over in the North-West corner. Ashley Gibson resumed the kicking duties but was off target again but he managed to land his first kick of the night on 36 minutes with a penalty after Paul Alcock was penalised for a high shot on Murrell. This took the half time score to Leeds 18 Widnes 6.

Leeds could not have asked for a better start to the second half, they were over the whitewash after just 20 seconds of the half. Martin Ainscough spilled the football while returning the kick off, Jason Golden put boot to ball and the Rhinos skipper won the foot race to touch down next to the posts. Gibson converted to stretch the Rhinos lead to 24-6.

Widnes were not going to give up this game without a fight, and they hit back two minutes later, a cross field kick from Paul Crook was plucked out of the air by Steve Rowlands and he was in under the posts. Crook converted and the gap was down to 12 points. Widnes had come back from behind in the previous encounter between the teams so the Rhinos weren’t home and dry yet.

The next score was going to be crucial and in the 54th minute it came the way of the Rhinos. Scott Murrell with the “off the shoulder” pass, not seen since last season, found Lee Smith and the young full back used all his strength to stretch out and get over the line. Gibson added the conversion to take the Rhinos 30-12 to the good.

It was then backs to the wall as Widnes threw everything at the Rhinos. The Leeds lads did absolutely everything to stop Widnes getting over their try line. Bruce Johnson was held up just short. It was Lee Smith who was leading the Rhinos defence; he batted down a pass when a try was the only other option. Chris Buttery fly hacked the ball out of the in goal area and then the moment that changed the game when Iain Gordon somehow plucked a kick from Crook out of the air on his own goal line. The scrum half set off up field but as he was trying to get a quick play the ball he was prevented by Paul Alcock who was dispatched to the Sin Bin by referee Merrick.

Leeds made the game safe in the 76th minute, Lee Smith having a fantastic game made the break up the middle of the field from his own in goal. He was hauled down by the covering Widnes defence, a quick play the ball allowed Nick Scruton to send Jordan Tansey scooting through to go in on the black dot and seal the game for the Rhinos. Gibson converted and it was all over at 36-12.

Leeds then put the cherry on the cake in the final minute, a superb break from Nick Scruton set the field position up. The Widnes defence was all at sea and the cross kick from Scott Murrell ended up in the hands of Danny Williams and he went over to take his tally to 20 for the season. Gibson converted, the final hooter went and Leeds Rhinos were Senior Academy First Division Champions for 2005 with a 42-12 victory.

It was a fantastic game of football, full credit to Widnes with halves Millington and Wood along with Crook trying the fling the ball about at every opportunity. The loss of Nash early door was a big blow for the Vikings. For the Rhinos, Nick Scruton got the official man of the match award for a barnstorming performance; the impressive Scott Murrell backing him up. Danny Williams was again fantastic on the wing and Chris Buttery showed his versatility. The SouthStander.com man of the match, selected by posters at the game, went to Lee Smith. He was by far the outstanding player on the field tonight and he used his first team experience to full effect.

On a personal note, I’d like to thank Stuart Wilkinson and Bob Pickles for all their help during the season. Although not qualifying for the Championship was an early season disappointment it’s been a fantastic to take in some different grounds through the season. I’d like to congratulate Jason Golden and all the lads, not just the 17 on duty last night, for the fantastic brand of football they have played throughout the season. Nearly 1000 points in 17 games speaks volumes. Here’s to 2006!

Match Facts

Rhinos
Vikings
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Smith
2
1
Ballard
2
Williams
1
2
Draper
1
3
Gibson
1
5
3
Woods
4
Buttery
4
Rowlands
1
5
Gardner
5
O'Connor
6
Tansey
2
6
Wood
7
Gordon
1
7
Millington
8
Burgess
8
Johnson
9
I'Anson J.
9
Crook
2
10
Scruton
10
Nash
11
Hart
11
Gill
12
Golden
1
12
Stout
13
Murrell
13
Martin
14
Fox
14
Boland
15
Walsh
15
Ainscough
16
Stenchion
16
Alcock
17
Tootill
17
Lamb

Kick Off:
19:30
Half-Time:
18-06
Penalties:
10-5
Sin Binnings:
Alcock (65)
Referee:
Dave Merrick (Pontefract)


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