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Second...Again!
Posted by southstander on October 16 2005 - 14:19:08

Rhinos Best?
This promised to be the closest of Grand Finals. The Rhinos had the recent experience, but the Bulls had recent form. Leeds had played just one game in the last month, the Bulls had run-out three times. It was all in the balance.

The Rhinos were without the injured Senior, and for the Bulls Lynch was left out in favour of the mercenary Adrian Morley.

Over sixty-five thousand packed into the Theatre of dreams, but half of them would end the night with then shattered.

06

Rhinos

v

Bulls

15

Superleague X

Grand Final

15th October 2005

Second....Again!

The pre-match entertainment, in the form of Madness, were fantastic. Sadly, the Rhinos failed to live up to their standards.

My heart sank straight from the kick-off. As Willie Poching went to field the ball on the full he knocked-on, giving the Bulls head-and-feed just five metres from the Rhinos line. It was not the start we'd have planned on.

On that occasion the Rhinos line held firm, as it did for the first twenty minutes during which time the Rhinos probably had the upper hand. Both sides went close in the opening quarter, but some sensational hits in defence from both sides kept the scorers redundant. It was on nineteen minutes, and just seconds after his introduction, that a high tackle from McDermott invited Deacon to take the two for a Bulls lead.

But within a minute the lead changed hands. The Rhinos pushed down-field and a Sinfield grubber bounced prefectly for McGuire to catch and ground. Sinfield failed with what had looked like a simple conversion, but we were 4-2 ahead, and I was sitting a little less nervously.

The Leeds 'upper hand' lasted just five minutes before the Rhinos were harshly penalised after Henderson appeared to drop the ball close to the Rhinos line. Deacon didn't need asking twice and slotted over the penalty.


Leeds one and only

Ten minutes of the half remained when a massive gap opened in the Leeds defence and Leon Pryce ran the angle to score. Deacon failed with a simple conversion attempt but had put Bradford back in the driving seat.

From the kick-off, the Rhinos scored again. As Morley returned the ball, he did so with a raised elbow and Klein gave the Rhinos a penalty which Sinfield slotted over from close. It was the final scoring of the half, and with the narrowest of two point half-time advantages, the Bulls must have feared a second half Rhinos onslaught to exploit their weary legs. Leeds had probably just edged the first half in terms of posession and territory, but trailed on the scoreboard. It wasn't time to panic yet!


Bounced Try
The first ten minutes of the second half was punctuated by two tries that weren't. One for either side.

On forty-five, Hape collected a kick-through and scored, but only after Vainikolo had taken out Calderwood without making an effort to catch the bomb. On fifty, Leeds passd the ball well before Walker went over in the right corner, only to bounce the ball on the line. The Video referee used his 'NO TRY' button twice, and the margin remained two points.

Walkers disallowed try hit the Rhinos hard. Within two minutes Vainikolo barged over from acting half-back and the Deacon goal took the score to 6-14.

Now we were eight points down, but with twenty-eight minutes left it wasn't time to panic. Leeds stuck to an obvious game-plan, batter it up the middle and the Bulls forwards must tire...but it never happened.

On sixty-five Deacon missed a simple goal after Lautiti'iti had tried to decapitate a charging Morley, but as the clock ticked away, the options for the Rhinos began to run out and panic set in. Burrow went close, but decided to pass when the route ahead seemed a better option, and with five minutes left Iestyn Harris kicked a drop-goal to kill the game.

The Rhinos battled to the final whistle, but the 'muscle' game plan had not worked.

Leeds dropped too much ball, and made too many mistakes in a very nervous game from both sides. Defences were on top, and chances few and far between. The difference was that Bradford made the most of theirs.

For the third time this season the Rhinos have come second, and to three different teams. This side lacked edge in the forwards and you have to wonder how much difference a Nick Scruton or Wayne McDonald might have made. Smith can't blame the lads, they stuck to the game-plan and worked 100%, but at the end of the day we were just not good enough.

Congratulations to the Bulls on a more solid performance and make sure that you look after that trophy for us.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Bulls
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Mathers
6
Withers
2
Calderwood
3
Pryce
1
3
Walker
13
Harris B.
12
McKenna
4
Hape
5
Bai
5
Vainikolo
1
6
McGuire
1
18
Harris
1
7
Burrow
7
Deacon
3
8
Bailey
12
Peacock
14
Dunemann
9
Henderson
15
Ward
29
Fielden
20
Ellis
10
Meyers
16
Poching
16
Johnson
13
Sinfield
1
11
Radford
9
Diskin
24
Morley
18
Jones-Buchanan
19
Langley
11
Lauiti'iti
1
Paul
10
McDermott
8
Vagana

Kick Off:
18:00
Half-Time:
6-8
Attendance:
65,537
Referee:
Ashley Klein


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