Victory and Defeat – 07.05
On this day …. 7 May
Ninety-nine years ago today, Rovers lost 16-14 to Hull FC at Headingley in their first Championship Final. Less than six months earlier, Rovers had beaten their old enemy in the Yorkshire Cup final on the same ground to win their first trophy since joining the Northern Union.
The country at the time was in the grip of depression, and there was a severe shortage of coal that caused havoc on the railways. Attempts to relocate the game to Hull City’s ground had failed; only one train left Hull in time for the game; and only an estimated 600 people from the city made the trip to the West Riding.
Rovers took an early lead through ‘Sandy’ Gibson’s penalty, but the Airlie Birds were more dangerous with the ball and scored three tries before half-time. Fortunately for the Robins, all three tries were scored near the touchline and none were converted, so thanks to a second Gibson goal, Rovers went in at the break only 9-4 down.
The decisive score came after 55 minutes when Rovers’ forwards attempted a dribble through the defence – commonly done at the time – but Hull FC’s Wyburn scooped the ball up, charged up field and slipped the ball to the supporting Taylor as Osborne closed in for the tackle. 14-4 in arrears, and with heavy rain now falling, Rovers threw everything into attack. After 63 minutes, Tommy McGiever’s clever kick was gathered by winger Harold Mulvey, who was able to run under the posts, and Gibson converted. Shortly after, the gap was narrowed to three points when Gibson kicked a penalty, and the Airlie Birds appeared to be tiring. Kennedy gave them some respite with a penalty that made it 16-11, but from the restart, Rovers came back again. Louis Harris fielded the ball and broke before passing to Jimmy Cook, who scored an excellent try. With less than five minutes to go, the straightforward conversion attempt was wide, and with it Rovers’ chances of repeating their Yorkshire Cup success.
On 7 May 1984, Rovers beat St Helens 21-16 at Craven Park to reach their second Premiership final. In front of a 7,733 crowd, Rovers overcame a 9-6 half-time deficit. Mike Smith led the way with two tries, Chris Rudd also touched down, and there were four goals from John Dorahy and a drop goal from Paul Harkin.
Five years ago today, Rovers beat Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 54-6 at Craven Park in a the 20th season of Super League.
A week after suffering their heaviest defeat of the season, at Wigan, the Robins came back in style, with winger Josh Mantellato landing a 22-point haul with two of the 10 tries and seven conversions. It was revenge for their defeat at Wakefield earlier in the season and lifted them out of the bottom four.
Rovers took the lead on 12 minutes when Mantellato claimed Terry Campese’s high kick and laid the ball back for Adam Walker to put centre Kris Welham over for the first try. Campese then collected Ben Cockayne’s pass to finish off a superb cross-field passing move. Wakefield struck back in the 23rd minute when Arundel slipped out of Ken Sio’s tackle to touch down and former Robin Craig Hall converted. Cockayne then created a try for Albert Kelly, before Campese darted to acting half to send Mantellato in again, and with the latter converting both scores, Rovers led 20-6 at the break.
The Wildcats were the livelier side at the start of the second half, but lacked the killer touch, and Rovers killed them off with three quickfire tries. Graeme Horne latched onto Kelly’s grubber kick, before Kieran Dixon pounced on a handling error to score, and it was Dixon again, minutes later, who capitalised on a kind bounce to touch down. In the late stages, Sio rounded off a break from Aaron Ollett, before providing the pass for John Boudebza to score his first Super League try. Tyrone McCarthy then rounded off Rovers win when he scored three minutes from time.
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