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So Near, and Yet So Far
Posted by southstander on September 28 2007 - 23:28:56

110%

Both sides knew that tonights match was not the end of the road, and that they would live to fight another day - that day being in a weeks time against either Hull FC or Wigan Warriors.

Both sides, however, approached this game like it was 'life or death'. No quarter was asked and none given as the two teams served up a nervous, gritty, and speedy encounter. Neither side deserved to lose this one, but one did!

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

08

Rhinos

v

Saints

10

SLXII - Semi-Final

28th September 2007

So Near, Yet So Far

Tony Smith sprung a surprise and left out Ryan Bailey, settling for exactly the same seventeen that had beaten Wakefield so comprehensively a fortnight ago. Saints were, of course, without play-maker Shaun Long and this inevitably boosted Leeds chances. A good travelling support had made its way from Headingley, and from warm-up to kick-off the rain camedown making the field and ball greasy.

From the opening whistle Saints dominated the game and immediately put intense pressure on the Rhinos defence. Wave after wave of attack was thwarted brilliantly until a pass to the left, when Saints hada man overlap, was intercepted by Lee Smith who went ninety metres, stepping out of a Wellens atempted ankle tap, to score. The Rhinos support went crazy and the Saints crowd were silenced as the Sinfield goal gave us a 6-0 lead, totally againstthe run of play.

Four minutes later and we had a chance to extend the lead but Sinfield missed a penalty attempt from thirty metres out, it was a mistake that would come back to haunt us.


Excellent Opener

We held the lead for just nine minutes before Pryve benefitted from a dubious Klein penalty ruling Diskin was not square despite letting Saints get away with the same offence many times in the opening quarter. As Saints moved the ball downfield, Pryce stepped beautifuly off both feet and went over next to the sticks. Smith added the extras to level the score.

Saints extended the lead on twenty when Klein mistakenly awarded a penalty right in-front of the sticks after Smith dropped the ball but Klein penalised Webb for trying to kick at the ball (the replay on the big screen showd he was just stepping backwards and never made contact). Smith kicked the penalty for 6-8 and that was the way that the scored remained until half-time.

Saints had, in all honesty, bossed the first half. Leeds had defended well and forced a few Saints errors at crucial times. The game was still anyones.


JP - Top Notch
Leeds levelled the scores after forty-nine when Sinfield kicked a penalty after Kirke had been tackled around the neck. It was eight apiece an neither side showed signs of cracking.

On fifty-five the Rhinos looked to have taken the lead once more after Saints dropped the ball and McGuire dribbled it to the line before Tansey touched down. The decision went to the video and he ruled that Saints had touched the ball dead before Tansey got to it and rules a Saints dropout. The decision seemed to sap some Leeds strength.

On sixty-two Burrow made the smart play and tried to drop a goal but the ball came back off the upright into the hands of a Saints player. Four minutes later and Saints had worked downfield well before Peacock was deemed to have tackled Fozzard high and Smith slotted over the penalty for 10-8 to the home side.

The Rhinos then dominated the last twenty, and the game was played almost entirely in the Saints red zone. Dropout followed dropout and scrambled Saints defence was the order of the day.

Webb looked to have scored on the last, stretching out an ungrounded arm to score, but Klein refused to go to the video referee, much to Leeds dismay, and gave the handover. Leeds simply couldn't get over the try line despite all the posession and all the effort and in the end the hooter saved Saints and put them in the Grand Final.

I can honestly say that the best side lost, mainly due to their inability to convert ball and ground into points, but partly due to Ashley Kleins bias towards the home side. That is now Ganson and Klein who have both felt that they needed to make amends for their mistake at the Millennium Stadium - lets hope that we've seen the last of it.

Onwards to Headingley next friday and a game against Wigan or Hull FC. We can still do this, but will need all your support next week.


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
1
Webb
1
Wellens
2
Donald
2
Gardner
3
Toopi
3
Gidley
4
Senior
4
Talau
5
Smith
1
5
Meli
6
McGuire
6
Pryce
1
7
Burrow
21
Smith
3
8
Leuleui
8
Fozzard
9
Diskin
9
Cunningham
10
Peacock
10
Cayless
11
Jones-Buchanan
11
Gilmour
12
Ellis
30
Flannery
13
Sinfield
2
12
Wilkin
14
Lauiti'iti
17
Graham
23
Tansey
22
Clough
18
Kirke
15
Bennett
22
Ablett
14
Roby

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
06-08
Referee:
Ashley Klein
Crowd:
12,064


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