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Leeds 46-46 Sheffield Eagles | 1994 Stones Bitter Championship

03/07/2020

After yesterday's Facebook Live of the Eagles' classic 46-46 draw with Leeds at Headingley in 1994, you can read the match report and statistics below. 

The highest ever scoring draw in the game's history when Leeds and Sheffield drew 46-46 at Headingley on 10th April 1994.

A storming injury time rally orchestrated by the guile and awareness of half backs Daryl Powell and Mark Aston enabled the Eagles to grab a share of the points in a historic high scoring draw.

The exciting climax that yielded two tries in the final three minutes to the visitors somehow seemed a fitting climax to one of the most bizarre matches seen at Headingley.

Sixteen tries and a total of 92 points in only 80 minutes indicate weaknesses on the part of both defences and yet some of the attacking ploys were out of the top draw.

There was no finer sight, for example, than Francis Cummins scorching to the posts for his second try in quick succession after exquisite lead up work from Harvey Howard, Marcus Vassilakopoulos and Craig Innes who all showed the value of close support play at speed and the ability to offload under pressure.

The match bore all the hallmarks of a similar encounter against Hull at Headingley, late season last time around.

That day Leeds emerged victorious after throwing away what should have been a safe lead but on this occasion their collective nerve failed to hold.

The day was full of landmarks, the Loiners unveiled their new kit, Robin Whitfield officiated for the last time at the stadium and the Eagles came away with their first League point from the daunting venue.

Numerous handling errors which were mainly the result of over ambitious passes early in the respective tackle counts punctuated the opening play although territorially the Eagles held the initiative.

Their more direct approach led by captain for the day Anthony Farrell in his 100th appearance for the club, earning acclaim from their vociferous and enthusiastic band of loyal travelling fans.

With the retention of possession at a premium and a less than total commitment on defence, a high scoring encounter always looked likely, especially after Richie Eyres had carved through the cover on a 50 metre dash up the middle which enabled the ever supporting James Lowes to send Graham Holroyd in under the posts.

That started the avalanche of points as the match took on the distinct feel of a sevens clash.

A penalty to Mark Aston quickly followed by a close in charge over from Paul Carr gave the visitors the lead as the Loiners seemed to lose their shape.

On attack only the rampaging bursts of Craig Innes on his return and the electrifying linking from deep of Alan Tait produced any clear cut chances.

One such effort from each secured the position for Harvey Howard and Graham Holroyd to send Ellery Hanley over.

The Loiners subsequently enjoyed a ten minute spell of dominance with the skipper at the heart of most moves but their failure to convert chances led to a lacklustre spell prior to the interval that yielded two further tries to the opposition.

The double introduction of Ian Hughes and the pacy Ryan Sheridan got the Eagles rolling forward and the subtle promptings of Aston and Powell enabled them to capitalise.

David Fraisse stormed over before Leeds committed suicide by twice coughing up possession in their own quarter and the sustained barrage on their line finally saw Anthony Farrell barge over as the hooter sounded.

If the first half had been frenetic, the sixty point haul in the second forty minutes was pure frenzy that had scribes and historians busy checking the record books.

Like some scene out of a 'Rocky' film both sides enjoyed periods of total dominance without ever delivering the knockout blow.

The Eagles struck first after the break to open up a 12 point cushion before a blistering three tries in seven minutes spell put the Loiners back in front.

Twice Craig Innes was on the spot before Gary Mercer powered down the touchline for a classic wingers score, reminiscent of his early days for the Kiwis.

Touchline conversions from both sides by Graham Holroyd kept the momentum going as Richie Eyres at prop in the absence of fractured thumb victim Neil Harmon and replacement Marcus Vassilakopoulos led the forays.

To their credit, Sheffield's belief and desire never wavered as they sought to guarantee the points that would secure them a Premiership berth and their highest ever League placing.

Ryan Sheridan sprinted over to level the scores before a brace from Francis Cummins including the try of the match saw the Loiners open up a ten point gap.

Daryl Powell reduced the arrears soon after with a 40 metre unopposed stroll to the corner but with only six minutes remaining Harvey Howard's contemptuous brush aside of two defenders which brought him his first try for the club seemed to have secured the win.

The dramatic, breathless finish somehow seemed appropriate in a game whose tactics seemed to owe as much to basketball as they did to Rugby League.

Paul Carr's second close in charge and a touchline conversion set the scene for Aston's last gasp match saver when he took a quick tap penalty to himself and dived over at the side of the posts, his conversion to level the scores being the last kick of a decidedly eccentric fixture..

LEEDS: Tries - Holroyd, Hanley, Innes (2), Mercer, Cummins (2), Howard. Goals -Holroyd (7).

SHEFFIELD: Tries - Carr (2), Fraisse, Farrell, Cook, Sheridan, Powell, Aston. Goals -Aston (7).

Half time - 12-20.

Attendance - 8,000.