Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

It's safari so good for the Rhinos of Leeds at last

Eorl Crabtree

There were some beastly goings on down Wembley way on Saturday afternoon as some Rhinos and Tigers fought ferociously to get a monkey off their backs.

You knew it was going to be that sort of a day when the BBC's introduction to the west Yorkshire invasion of London for the Rugby League Challenge Cup final featured a brass band whose medley consisted of 'On Ilkla Moor bar tat' and 'Happy.'

But it was hats off to the Rhinos of Leeds, while there was no Pharrell Williams requests from the Tigers of Castleford as a 17-year wait ended for a club that has been to Elland back.

Perhaps the scariest creature on show wasn't even on the pitch, with presenter Mark Chapman joined by usual suspects Brian Noble and Jon Parkin and a huge beast of a man in Eorl Crabtree.

We were told, aptly enough, that he was a Huddersfield Giant, and he was big and friendly, although he did bear an uncanny resemblance to the unwanted offspring of Robbie Savage and He-Man.

Pitchside reporter and rugby league legend Robbie Hunter-Paul took his life in his hands before the game by running amongst the warming up players.

"There's a saying in Rugby League that there's two types of players. You've got the piano players, they're the backs who make the game sexy, and there's the piano pushers, the big donkeys in the middle of the park," he said, as we waited for him to be ripped limb from limb.

Not content with savage animals, there was even more danger, with commentator Dave Woods describing Castleford's Justin Carney as 'a monster, his calves are bigger than most people's waists' and this theme continued.

As Leeds' Ryan Hall bundled everyone over to score, he was described as a 'steamroller' while Noble argued that his legs weren't legs, they were 'small humans' and he was a 'freight train'.

It would have been easier to stop the Albert Hall as the Leeds winger showed more brutality to score again and help his side to a 23-10 win to end that hoodoo, and after it was all over Noble now decided he was a 'threshing machine'

But just when you thought things couldn't get any more bizarre, Hall's brutal run, with an outstretched arm to the throat for good measure, was summed up by Parkin.

"You've got a 110kilo guy, you try and get rid of his go-go-gadget arm," he said. No chance, I'm sending Eorl down there with his power sword, he's the most powerful man in the universe.

The good, the bad and the ugly

THE GOOD: How fantastic it was to hear the dulcet tones of a proper football commentator as Barry Davies made a return to Match of the Day. They even dug out the old graphics for the teams, scores and time, but missed a trick by not telling us that the referee was a Mr Clattenburg from Co. Durham. Please come back, Barry.

THE BAD: If it wasn’t bad enough that Celtic tumbled out of the Champions League (again) on Tuesday night they had to suffer the ignominy of doing so on ITV4 with Matt Smith presenting. They couldn’t send Adrian Chiles when they found out Kenny Dalglish was coming dressed as Del Boy in a lovely camelhair coat, ideal for Glasgow in August. Insert appropriate ‘plonker’ gag here.

THE UGLY: The mighty MK Dons’ dismissal of minnows Manchester United from the Milk Rumbelows Carling Capital One Around a Pound Cup on Tuesday night had Iain Dowie on overdrive on Gillette Soccer Night on Sky. “Louis van Gaal’s face is an absolute picture,” he said, although the picture Iain’s face is modelled on is probably kept in a very dark gallery.

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