23rd September: The Big Cs win trophies
Richard de la Riviere looks back at what happened in Rugby League over the years on this day: 23rd September
Castleford and Canberra picked up trophies on this day in 1990, winning the Yorkshire Cup and the much-coveted Winfield Cup respectively.
The Raiders, captained by Mal Meninga, retained the Australian Premiership, beating Penrith Panthers 18-14, with 41,535 spectators sardined into the Sydney Football Stadium.
An outstanding display of kicking helped Ricky Stuart win the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match. But it was his long, spiralling pass that set up John Ferguson for the opening try, with the winger touching down on the same blade of grass as he had done so memorably a year earlier.
Laurie Daley, again courtesy of Stuart, extended the lead to 12-0 before teenage centre Brad Fittler and Paul Smith put the Panthers back into the contest with tries either side of the break.
Substitute Matthew Wood scored the gamebreaking try following strong runs by Meninga and Daley, before Greg Alexander pulled one back.
The difference on the scoreboard was in the goalkicking, with Meninga kicking three to Alexander’s one.
Later that day the Kangaroo squad was announced for their tour of Europe, with Meninga installed as captain, following the omission of Wally Lewis, who was controversially deemed unfit.
Balmain hooker Benny Elias was named vice-captain.
In front of 12,000 fans, Cas beat Wakefield in the Yorkshire Cup final 11-8, finally burying their Elland Road hoodoo, after having lost three Yorkshire Cup finals and a Challenge Cup semi-final there in the 1980s.
David Plange’s winning try allowed skipper Lee Crooks to pick up his fifth winners’ medal in the competition, after having won three times with Hull and once with Leeds.
Wakefield stand-off Tracey Lazenby won the White Rose Trophy as man of the match, and it was his break that produced the first try of the match for Andy Mason, which Kevin Harcombe converted from touch.
Cas hit back through Gary Atkins, but Crooks failed to convert, and Wakefield went further ahead through a penalty from Harcombe.
Crooks cut the deficit with a penalty of his own on 49 minutes before the introduction of international prop Keith ‘Beefy’ England changed the game, according to the League Express match reporter Mike Beevers.
And, shortly afterwards, Plange, playing his first game of the season, followed up a great trysaving tackle on Mason by scoring the game’s crucial try, which came from a long ball from Graham Southernwood.
In the day’s league fixtures, two tries from Steve McNamara helped Hull overtake Trinity at the top as they saw off Widnes 32-6, while Wigan’s 24-2 win over Rochdale saw them move into second.
Halifax’s 56-8 win at Bramley saw them top the second division, ahead of Carlisle, Ryedale-York, Salford, Swinton and Whitehaven on points difference.
Kangaroos start with a win
The second Kangaroo tourists kicked off their 1911 tour with a 20-11 win over Midlands and the South at Coventry in front of 3,000 onlookers.
Absent from the occasion, though, and the whole tour, was the game’s greatest player, Dally Messenger, who had turned down an invitation to tour in order to marry.
He was a huge loss for the tourists, having scored 270 points in 21 matches for Eastern Suburbs that season. Despite last-minute efforts to persuade him to change his mind, he refused to tour.
And 8-6 down at the break against a team made up of Yorkshire, Lancashire and Coventry club players, it appeared that he would be much missed, but the Kangaroos scored four second-half tries to get their tour off to a winning start.
Viv Farnworth scored three tries and captain Chris McKivat, a former Australia rugby union captain, crossed twice, but Boxer Russell managed just one goal.
“The opening match, although eminently satisfactory as far as the result is concerned, serves to show up the weak point of the team – the dearth of goalkickers,” read one report.
The Kangaroos went on to win the Ashes by two games to zero with another drawn, and they won 29 of their 36 matches overall.
Cumbria retain County Championship
Cumbria retained the County Championship by beating Yorkshire 20-10 at Whitehaven’s Recreation Ground on this day in 1981.
The visitors, coached by Great Britain head honcho Johnny Whiteley, were hit by a number of withdrawals, but still fielded star names like John Holmes, Steve Nash, Roy Dickinson and David Ward.
Cumbria boasted Haven’s formidable scrum-half, Arnie ‘Boxer’ Walker, a one-time member of Open Rugby magazine’s World XIII, as well as the fearsome Gorley brothers, all of whom had scored tries in their win over Lancashire.
And once again Walker was a tryscorer, adding to three-pointers scored by Workington’s Richard Beck and Barrow pair Malcolm Flynn and Mel Mason.
Town’s Lynn Hopkins kicked four goals.
For Yorkshire, Castleford prop David Finch and Bradford winger Alan Parker crossed the line, with Finch and Featherstone’s Steve Quinn each kicking a goal.
The crowd was 2,352, which was approximately double the attendances for the games at Wheldon Road and Central Park.
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