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Wing beneath the win

Phil celebrates unsung heroes behind Rhinos' triumph

Phil Clarke Posted 13th October 2009 view comments

'Thank you' doesn't seem an adequate way to sum up my gratitude to the players of both Leeds and St Helens, who showed why they are the best two teams in this country on Saturday night.

The match went into the last 10 minutes with just a point separating them and had enough controversy to ensure that this game will be spoken of for years to come.

Much of the post-match debate centred around Lee Smith's try from Danny Maguire's brilliant left-foot kick but I felt that the official's decision to award a scrum feed to Leeds from the Gidley pass to Gardner 10m from the Saints try-line was equally as contentious.


As I drove home from the game, I concluded that the Rhinos deserved to win for their ability to cope with the Saints' pressure in the opening 30 minutes.

Leeds united: Rhinos' triumph was truly a team effort

Leeds united: Rhinos' triumph was truly a team effort

Leeds are the only team in this competition who could handle that kind of onslaught without cracking.

They're probably the only team capable of preventing a miracle try by Kyle Eastmond as well. If they ever make a DVD called 101 Try Saving Tackles, Sinfield's will be the first one onto it.


My admiration for the Rhinos' goes beyond their star players like Sinfield.

Winning teams also need willing workers who are prepared to do some of the unnoticed graft. Ian Kirke is one such example.

Phil Clarke
Quotes of the week

Winning teams also need willing workers who are prepared to do some of the unnoticed graft. Ian Kirke is one such example.

Ten years ago he made his debut in the old Second Division when playing for Hull KR. It took him seven years of hard work at the lower levels before he was given a chance by the Rhinos.

Few players have the patience, dedication or persistence to progress to their Super League debut at 25 after spending time at Dewsbury and York, but this 6' 4" man-mountain did. He even broke his leg in June this year and yet made a recovery in time to play in his third consecutive Grand Final.

If the other clubs in Super League are looking for tips from the Rhinos, there's one they might not have noticed!


One of the most selfless acts of Super League XIV was Scott Donald's agreement to move from the left wing to the right.

In 2008 he scored 26 tries whilst operating outside Keith Senior but agreed to go over to the right side to help improve their defence.

His experience and voice has tightened up the Rhinos on the right and yet most of the tries have gone to the left side again. Donald's try count has halved this year, but it was all for the team's benefit.

It is also worth pointing out something that the St Helens club have done over the past few years. The day after the Grand Final they took their Academy team on a tour to Australia.

This is the third time in the last six years that the club have organised such a trip and it is partly responsible for the successful youth development that has taken place under Mike Rush.

Both of the clubs in the Grand Final use their resources more intelligently than the rest of the Super League competitors.

Comments (4)

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Paul Melling says...

Hello again Phil. My mail refers to the semi final between Saints and Wigan. The disappointment of losing had now faded but one issue still bothers me and i would like your opinion please. During the second half of the match Pat Richards scored a quite superb try where he kicked the ball on the run and gathered it up to touch down. This try was confirmed by the video ref. No problem with the try. What i do have a big problem with is the build up to the try. Pat Richards kicked the ball on the run which meant that the ball wasn´t in his possession.After this, Saints´ fullback Paul Wellens blatantly tackled Richards to prevent him from reaching the ball and thereby denying him a clear try. Why wasn´t the Saints´ player at least sin-binned by Ganson for a professional foul? Surely,if Richards hadn´t reached the ball then a penalty try would have been awarded and Wellens would have walked? Am i correct? Why then,despite the awarded try,wasn´t the professional foul punished by Ganson? This could have affected the outcome of this match as Saints in the end had to defend (heriocally and superbly) but with 13 men on the pitch. I would appreciate your thoughts on this Phil. Regards, Paul.

Posted 19:31 15th October 2009

Iain Buchan says...

Phil, Your comments are spot on regarding Ian Kirke. He sets an example to everyone in the club and has been an unsung hero from the1st time he broke into the 1st team. As for the Lee Smith try, the Eastmond try was just as contentious yet is not being scrutinised in as much detail. The ball appears to deviate from its original trajectory from the kick prior to contact with Scott Donald occurred. How did this change of trajectory occur?..........Eastmond perhaps? As the video ref gave his verdict on both his decisions we should accept his decision as final.

Posted 11:04 15th October 2009

Stewart Ibbotson says...

Good comments Phil, but watch us go next year when Gareth Ellis's replacement Greg Eastwood finally arrives along with Brett Delaney in the centre to replace the departing Lee Smith. Two very strong additions to the Rhino's line-up. What with Bluey's superb man management and the family spirit he has nurtured amongst the team Another Holy Grail will be Headingley bound next year. For someone who was at Odsal in the 1960/61 Championship final against Warrington it doesn't get much sweeter than this. Also can we educate our younger supporters that Rugby League has always had a play of to decide the Champion Team for as long as I remember and the League Leaders Shield was the Premiership.

Posted 18:45 13th October 2009

Gordon Taylor says...

Totally agree phil with the emphasis more and more on the salary cap clubs need to bring youth thru .That therefore will also help our game at national level. Before i go phil bentham should be fired from refereeing as that video decision smells big time in saying that phil leeds deserved to win but what a last 7 mins we would of been in for

Posted 15:25 13th October 2009

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