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RUGBY LEAGUE: LEROY'S SO RIVETTING!; Leeds Rhinos 52 London Broncos 16: SILK CUT CHALLENGE CUP FINAL.

DREAMS can come true - just ask Leeds' Wembley record-breaker Leroy Rivett.

The 22-year-old winger will go down in history as the first player to score four tries in a Challenge Cup final.

And he revealed later that he'd had a vision he would finish as Man of the Match.

Leicester-born Rivett said he was awoken in the middle of the night and couldn't sleep for thinking he would score a hat-trick and win the Lance Todd Trophy.

He added: "I even thought about how I was going to answer the questions in the interview later. I must have been awake for a couple of hours."

Rivett's four-try blast helped beat off the challenge of London Broncos as the Rhinos ran up a record Wembley score to lift the Silk Cup Trophy for the first time since 1978.

But Rivett, a product of local amateur rugby, also told how Leeds nearly lost him last season when he was ordered to move on-loan to Bramley.

"I thought it was a step backward and I would rather have left Leeds altogether", he said.

"But I got match-fit and fought my way back into contention."

Rivett completed his hat-trick by sprinting the length of the field for a spectacular interception try.

The effort earned him a sponsor's cash prize of pounds 10,000 as only the second player after Bradford's Robbie Paul to score three tries in a Wembley final

London skipper Shaun Edwards conceded later that it was Rivett's third try which had been the turning-point.

Rivett, who added his fourth just before the end, polled 19 votes for the Man-of-the-Match award, 12 ahead of his nearest rival Ryan Sheridan.

Martin Offiah, who played opposite Rivett, had hoped to become the first player to win the Lance Todd Trophy three times.

But he was forced to withdraw injured at halftime after scoring a dazzling opening try for London.

Leeds skipper Iestyn Harris made a monumental contribution to victory with a record-equalling 20 points from eight goals and a try.

His goal tally matched that of Featherstone's Cyril Kellett in the 1973 final. And his points total compared with Neil Fox's effort for Wakefield Trinity against Hull in 1960.

In winning 52-16, Leeds notched the highest score since St Helens beat Bradford 40-32 in 1996.

It was also the widest winning margin since Huddersfield beat St Helens 37-3 way back in 1915.

But London coach Dan Stains insisted later that the scoreline did not reflect the effort of his team, who led 16-12 just 10 minutes after the interval.

He said: "I was proud of the players but the weight of Leeds and lack of possession took its toll in the second half.

London's credibility as serious contenders for the Cup was based on their magnificent effort in beating Castleford in the semi-final.

And for a while it looked as though they were capable of repeating that form, Edwards emerging as a modern-day Dick Whittington returning to London to fulfil his destiny after once walking away.

Edwards defied doctor's orders to play with a broken thumb in a desperate bid to give the Broncos their first major trophy and pick up a tenth winner's medal for himself.

London, despite falling apart in the latter stages, added to an entertaining final. Sadly one of their greatest fans and backroom workers wasn't there.

Bob Evans, who had stuck with them since their launch as Fulham, 19 years ago, died yesterday morning.

The Broncos couldn't have wished for a better start with tries by Offiah and Robbie Simpson.

It was 27 minutes before Leeds settled down with Rivett's first try, and they did well to squeeze in another from Brad Godden just before halftime.

A try by Greg Fleming, who pinched the ball from under the nose of Francis Cummins, sustained London's hopes of a miracle to match that of Sheffield in beating Wigan last year.

But Leeds turned up the heat to produce a flood of points, other touchdowns coming from Barry McDermott, Marcus St Hilaire and Cummins.

And the Leeds players earned a record Wembley pay-packet of pounds 20,000 a man.

LEEDS RHINOS: Tries. Rivett (4), Godden, McDermott, St Hilaire, Harris, Cummins. Goals. Harris (8).

LONDON BRONCOS: Tries. Offiah, Simpson, Fleming. Goals. Smyth (2). Half- time Leeds 12 London 10.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:ROBINSON, John
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 2, 1999
Words:716
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