Magic Success and Crowned Champions

Category: Heritage

Magic Success and Crowned Champions

On this day ….. 5 May

97 years ago, on 5 May 1923, Rovers won the Rugby League Championship for the first time, by beating Huddersfield 15-5 in the final at Headingley.

In a first half dominated by fierce tackling, both sides missed penalty attempts; Rovers skipper Arthur Moore held up Howarth on the line; and Louis Harris ignored several supporting players with a try begging. The only score was a magnificent long-range drop-goal by Laurie Osborne after 32 minutes.

Harris opened the second half by making a 50-yard break, and although no try resulted, it was no surprise when Rovers made the breakthrough, centre Rhys Rhys beating five defenders on a dazzling run to the line. Osborne converted, but then misjudged a kick from Davidge, allowing Williams to score, and Gronow narrowed the gap to two points. Another error led to the next and decisive try. Huddersfield loose-forward Stamper was forced to move to full-back due to an early injury, and he lost the ball on the line, allowing Jimmy Cook to score. Osborne missed with the conversion, but it was 10-5 with 15 minutes to go. Rovers then missed with a succession of drop-goal attempts, until, in the last minute, the unfortunate Stamper failed claim a loose ball, and Jack Hoult scooped it up and scored near the posts. Osborne kicked the goal and it was all over.

Rovers’ victory was built on their resolute defence and a fine kicking game. Skipper Moore lifted a trophy for the second time, this time on behalf of a team containing 11 local players.


13 years ago, Rovers beat Hull FC 14-10 in their first Magic Weekend derby encounter. Paul Cooke played a full part in Rovers’ victory in only his second game for the club.

After only four minutes Cooke put in a grubber kick for Makali Aizue to pounce for the opening try. Cooke converted, then added a penalty, before combining with Stanley Gene to send in Ben Cockayne. With Cooke’s conversion, Rovers looked comfortable as they approached half-time. But they switched off just before the hooter sounded, and Tickle took advantage to send in Raynor.

Nine minutes into the second period, Domic reacted quickest to touch down when Byron Ford failed to gather a high kick. With just four points in it, defences started to dominate. Rovers had two chances, when Luke Dyer intercepted and broke clear, but Raynor just managed to get back; and when Cockayne thought he had a second try four minutes from time, but this was disallowed for interference in the build-up. Hull pressed for the winning score, but Rovers’ defence just held out.

The win ended Rovers’ eight-match losing streak, and it was their first win in a competitive derby game since a divisional play-off victory at Boothferry Park in August 1998.

The Rovers team was – Ben Cockayne; Ian Hardman, Luke Dyer, Jon Goddard, Byron Ford; Paul Cooke, James Webster; Makali Aizue, Ben Fisher, Jim Gannon, Chris Chester, Mark O’Neill, Stanley Gene.  Bench: David Ward, David Tangata-Toa, Jason Netherton, Mark Lennon.

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