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Leeds Rhinos win Challenge Cup as Luke Gale's golden boot secures drop goal win

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staronline@reachplc.com (Julie Stott)

Luke Gale’s golden boot clinched a sensational victory for Leeds in a classic history-making Challenge Cup final.

Fans were cruelly robbed of watching this magnificent showdown live but nothing could wipe the smile off the Rhinos’ faces.

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Gale, who won it with his 76th minute drop goal, said: “There have been a few one pointers this year and luckily it went our way.

“I am quite emotional and it might take a while to sink in but I hope we did Rob and his family proud.”

Leeds legend Rob Burrow, who is battling motor neurone disease, was the guest of honour in absentia and he’ll have been hugely boosted by this result.

Gale’s drop goal secured victory for Leeds at Wembley

Coach Richard Agar said: “Rob has been with us in spirit. He has been very much an inspiration for us.

“It’s really fitting that we’ve done it for Rob and fitting that Gale, wearing the number seven on his back, came up with the big play.”

Gale may have landed the winner but it was full back Richie Myler who deservedly grabbed the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match.

He looked to be on his way out of the club earlier this season but has now firmly written himself into Leeds and Cup folklore.

He said: “I am overwhelmed. When adversity comes you can go one of two ways but 12 months of hard work has got me here.

Ash Handley goes over for a Leeds try inside an empty Wembley

“This group of boys deserve everything but credit to Salford. That was one hell of a game and they threw everything at us.”

Defeat was gutting for the Red Devils who went toe to toe and at one point looked favourites to win their first Cup for 82 years.

They stood up to be counted in their first final since 1969 and two tries from Pauli Pauli and James Greenwood in five second half minutes gave them a four point lead.

But Leeds hauled themselves level with a Myler-inspired Ash Handley try, with Gale then landing his killer blow.

It was a classic cup final – despite no fans being in attendance
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Red Devils captain Lee Mossop said: “We are absolutely devastated. We worked hard to get here but to fall at the last hurdle again is heart-breaking.”

Salford stunned Super League 12 months ago by getting to the Grand Final – three years after being a golden point away from being relegated.

Their journey to Wembley was just as noteworthy, knocking out the previous two winners Catalans and Warrington, on the way.

But coach Ian Watson feels they contributed to their own downfall here, saying: “The boys did not lack effort but we were just not smart enough.

Leeds celebrate their win at th final hooter

“We opened them up quite a number of times but we did not build enough pressure and we came up with poor last plays.

“It will sting because we do not know when we can get here again. But hopefully this will not define us. The fact that we are so desperately disappointed shows how far we have come as a club.”

Tom Briscoe, Leeds’ only survivor of their last Cup win in 2015, opened the scoring with some terrific footwork after a cracking pass from Konrad Hurrell.

But Salford struck back with a superb long range try by Rhys Williams after good work by Kallum Watkins and Niall Evalds.

Myler was key in setting up the first of Handley’s double, which gave Leeds a 12-6 lead.

The former Salford player also denied Evalds a try and almost latched on to a Gale kick just before half time.

Leeds were error strewn after the break, gifting Salford a way back in, but Myler and Gale had the final say.

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