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Leeds Rhinos have lifted their 14th Challenge Cup trophy after a pulsating 17-16 result against a resillient Salford Red Devils side this afternoon at Wembley Stadium.
It was a game of fine margins tonight. The game ebbed and flowed but it was the golden boot of Leeds halfback Luke Gale which saw Leeds Rhinos triumph in a wonderful Challenge Cup final which was an 80-minute spectacle of rugby league between two talented sides.
Both sides threw their hardest blow in this contest but Leeds Rhinos built enough in the first half to get the result. Tom Briscoe scored in the corner to open up the contest before it was his fellow winger Ash Handley which ensured Leeds took a 12-6 lead into the break.
All through their cup run, Salford were never out of the contest. Rhys Williams set Wembley alight with a 85-metre run to make it 6-6 then for a brief moment the Red Devils found themselves ahead and on course for their first Challenge Cup in 83 years when James Greenwood made it 16-12.
Salford were forced to dig deep tonight, much of the first half was played with them rucking it out then falling behind. Quick tries to Pauli Pauli who isolated the halfback then Greenwood's effort to back up had them believing.
That makes it two lost finals in as many years for the Red Devils after their Grand Final loss against St Helens last season. There is something positive brewing for the Salford side as they still look to finish 2020 in a positive fashion.
The Rhinos though, had the extra dose of class tonight. The work from their halves and Lance Todd trophy winner Richie Myler saw them dominate field position and keep the Salford side under the kosh for most of the game. Myler also produced the pass to put Handley in to make it 16-all.
Then it all fell to the Rhinos halfback. Luke Gale who missed earlier in the game, was poised perfectly. He steadied himself and despite the attention of the chasing Red Devils slotted the crucial field goal which helped Leeds Rhinos lift their 14th Challenge Cup.
The final word for this game goes to a man who didn't take the field tonight. Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow is battling Motor Neurone Disease and there is a documentary out called 'My Year with MND' which all league fans should check out. The former Rhino will be chuffed to see his side hoist the famous trophy.
Donotions for Rob can be made in the UK by texting MNDROB to 70085. We here at LeagueUnlimited wish Rob all the best for his fight with MND.
Leeds Rhinos 17 - Salford Red Devils 16
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Halftime Score: Leeds Rhinos 12 Salford Red Devils 6
LeagueUnlimited.com Players of the Match:
3 points - Richie Myler
2 points - Kevin Brown
1 points - Luke Gale
LEEDS RHINOS (17)
Tries: Tom Briscoe, Ash Handley (2)
Field Goals: Luke Gale (1/2)
Conversions: Rhyse Martin (2/3)
SALFORD RED DEVILS (16)
Tries: Rhys Williams, Pauli Pauli, James Greenwood
Conversions: Krisnan Inu (2/3)