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Rhinos Set Up Repeat Grand Final
Posted by Number 2 on September 30 2007 - 17:47:02

Opening Try
By Matthew Horton

The last chance saloon for the Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos Under 21ís as they met at Edge Hall Road with a Grand Final place against Hull FC up for grabs.

Wigan had defeated the Rhinos on both occasions in the league program and finished as Minor Premiers. The Rhinos meanwhile were on a roll after victories over Salford and Bradford and fielded an unchanged team which included Jamie Thackray.

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

38

Rhinos

v

Warriors

32

Senior Academy Championship Final Eliminator

30th September 2007

Rhinos Set Up Repeat Grand Final

Leeds, attacking down the slight slope, were first on the board with only 5 minutes on the clock. Luke Gale releasing Simon Worrall with a short pass, Gale backed up to take the return pass before a long looping ball sent Ryan Hall in at the corner. Kyle Briggs converted and Leeds were six points to the good.

It got even better five minutes later, again Luke Gale and Simon Worrall were involved in the build up and a quick pass from Worrall found Kyle Briggs and he sent Steve Brook through the stretched Wigan defence to touch down. Briggs was off target this time but it was a dream start for the Rhinos and a 10-0 lead.

The Rhinos hadnít reckoned with Michael McIllorum as he went on a one man mission to drag the Warriors back into the game. First of all in the 13th minute, he went from dummy half and weaved his was through from dummy half. Then 9 minutes later he was in the right place as Danny Hill offloaded 5 metres away from the Rhinos line and McIllorum was on hand to touch down by the posts. Nicky Stanton converted both to edge Wigan 12-10 in front.

The Warriors were now on top and hammered home their advantage with two quick tries, aided by the Rhinos conceding silly penalties. Firstly in the 31st minute, McIllorum returned the favour to send Danny Hill and three minutes later Thomas Coyle stepped through some poor Rhinos defence and rounded Ben Jones-Bishop get over under the posts. Stanton kept his perfect record with the boot to take the Warriors 24-10 ahead.

Leeds were on the back foot, but got a huge break just before half time. Sam Tomkins attempted a chip over the top but the ball was plucked out of the air by Luke Burgess and the big prop set off from 60 metres out and outpaced the Wigan defence to go in under the posts. Kyle Briggs converted and the Rhinos went in to the break trailing 24-16.

Despite getting the big boost just before the break the Rhinos conceded first points in the second half. After an error from Danny Allan gave the Warriors a scrum on the half way line Chris Tuson picked the ball up from the base and ghosted through the Rhinos defence to go in untouched. Stanton missed his first kick of the afternoon but the Warriors lead was extended to 12 points.

Leeds were not downhearted and dragged themselves off the canvas after 53 minutes to give themselves a fighting chance. A long pass from Kyle Briggs found Steve Brook and he stepped through Wigan defence and set off up field. The Rhinos support came charging through and Briggs was on hand to take the return pass at the second attempt to go over. He then converted to bring the Rhinos back to 28-22 behind.

Wigan nearly extended their lead 5 minutes later when Coyle and McIllorum ripped the Rhinos defence to shreds but with the line begging Kyle Briggs somehow got back to intercept. Then Jason Hart made a huge break and was pulled down just short of the line, Jamie Thackray got into dummy half and with Leeds lined up to move the ball with the Wigan defence in pieces he went for glory and was held up short by some desperate defence. It was gripping stuff and the crowd were on the edge of their seats.

Wigan were tiring and Leeds took advantage with 11 minutes to go. Luke Gale making the break and he was caught just short of the line. A quick play the ball saw Kyle Brigs at dummy half find Jodie Broughton and he went into the corner. Briggs could convert and the gap was down to 2 points. Three minutes later the Rhinos were ahead for the first time in 50 minutes. Ryan Hall, now in the full back role after losing Ben Jones-Bishop to injury, breaking through he Wigan defensive line and again Broughton was on hand to get his second try of the game. Briggs this time added to conversion and Leeds were 32-28 ahead.

It got even better with 5 minutes to go, after Wigan didnít find touch with a penalty to gift the Rhinos good field position it was Kyle Briggs who this time made the break through the Wigan defence and Simon Worrall was on hand to collect the offload and just reach out to score. Briggs converted, Leeds suddenly led by 10 points and surely the game was over.

This time it was Wigan who made a stand, as they moved the ball about with abandon stretching the Rhinos defence. Tomkins and Coyle moved the ball out wide to Mick Farrell and he sent Gary Sykes in at the corner. Stanton could convert, Leeds led 38-32 and there was still drama to come as Wigan, aided by a penalty made one final charge for the Leeds line. Again the ball was moved to the right but with the line begging Sykes couldnít take in the final pass and opportunity for Wigan to possibly force extra time was gone and the Rhinos clung on for victory and to set up a repeat of last years Grand Final.

Playoffs are no good for the nerves, the standard just keeps on getting higher and higher at every level and this was no exception today. The Rhinos dragged themselves off the canvas to give themselves a shot at retaining their title. The props, Luke Burgess and Michael Haley were immense today constantly taking the Rhinos forward. Luke Gale and Kyle Briggs directed the Rhinos around the park and Simon Worrall was a tower on both attack and defence.

So the Rhinos move onto the Grand Final at the KC Stadium next Saturday afternoon to see if they can repeat the 1-0 success they had last season. The game kicks off at 2pm.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Warriors
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Jones-Bishop
1
Raye
2
Hall
1
2
Stanton
4/6
3
Broughton
2
3
Thornley
4
Brown, M
4
Sykes
1
5
Reittie
5
Walker
6
Briggs
1
5/7
6
Coyle
1
7
Gale
7
Tomkins
8
Burgess
1
8
Kavanagh
9
Kaye
9
McIllorum
2
10
Haley
10
O'Carroll
11
Brook
1
11
Hill
1
12
Thackray
12
Kavanagh
13
Worrall
1
13
Tuson
1
14
Allan
14
Colbon
15
Hart
15
Brown
16
Chandler
16
Holland
17
Jones
17
Farrell

Kick Off:
14:30
Half-Time:
16-24
Referee:
Matt Thomason


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