Challenge Cup Final: Leeds Rhinos 17 Salford Red Devils 16 - Richie Myler’s reinvention completed as he lifts Cup and Lance Todd Trophy

IT is not quite as Hollywood as The Shawshank Redemption but the turnaround in Richie Myler’s Leeds Rhinos career would certainly at least make an enthralling sporting documentary.

There were so many tales of redemption from the West Yorkshire club dripping through Saturday’s dramatic Coral Challenge Cup final win, not least that of their own coach Richard Agar, who masterminded this triumph.

With the 76th-minute drop goal that at last clinched it, captain Luke Gale has also banished some demons of his own, lifting a first major trophy for his hometown club at the age of 32.

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But Myler is a story in his own right. When fellow scrum-half Gale was signed from Castleford Tigers last autumn, his days at Emerald Headingley looked numbered.

However, the 30-year-old has truly reinvented himself as a full-back and delivered on the biggest stage, winning the Lance Todd Trophy as man-of-the-match against Salford Red Devils who gave everything but could not make the killer plays in their first Challenge Cup final since 1969.

Myler was lambasted by sections of the Leeds support as they struggled last year, battling against relegation before Agar steered them to safety, but his response has been emphatic.

“When you get adversity you go one of two ways with it,” he said.

“I am really proud it has come out good and days like this are what it is all for.

Dream come true: Leeds-born Rhinos captain Luke Gale, top, pots the drop goal which earned the Coral Challenge Cup for his boyhood team. Picture: Ed Sykes SWPix.com

“Twelve months of hurt? I will take that for the Lance Todd and a winner’s medal.”

Myler was central to so many of Leeds’ best moments, whether defusing Niall Evalds’ kick and swiftly turning defence into attack or coming up with a brilliant flicked pass to help create Ash Handley’s first try.

It is remarkable to think that someone who has played his entire career at No7 - and represented England at it - can make such a positional switch seem so effortless.

Predictably, though, there was still drama; Myler’s solitary error looked like costing Leeds the silverware.

Victory spoils: Luke Gale, left, celebrates with the Challenge Cup and coach Richard Agar (left) and Lance Todd Trophy winner Richie Myler. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com

His former Rhinos half-back partner Tui Lolohea hoisted a kick that fell in that difficult no man’s land near the 20m mark.

Hesitant Myler could not get to it in time and Salford scooped up to score, Krisnan Inu converting James Greenwood’s try to put them 16-12 ahead - the first time they had led - in the 58th minute.

He recalled: “It was a good kick, just short of where I could get to.

“It was one of those, I probably should have tried to take it.

Touchdown: Leeds Rhinos' Ash Handley scores their second try at Wembley. Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com

“Galey gave me a good spray on the field. ‘You’re better than that Dicky’, I think he said to me.

“I think that’s the kind of relationship we’ve got on the field.

“We are pretty honest and I think that’s exactly what we need.

“We got to go down the other end and needless to say, I was happy when Ash Handley scored in the corner and it was back to 16-all. “I think that made my evening a little bit easier.”

Myler forgets to mention it was his final pass that saw the prolific winger go in for his second, the full-back once more providing the crucial accuracy and incision that has now made Agar’s side such an attacking threat.

“It has been an indifferent road to get here, but we have a very special group who work hard for each other,” he continued.

Party time: The Leeds Rhinos squad celebrate their win over Salford Red Devils. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 17/10/2020

“That second half wasn’t great, but we knew if we hung in there there’d be something extra that would get us the points and we’d win.”

There was controversy in the build-up to Gale’s latest crucial one-pointer for the club, though.

Salford’s Pauli Pauli was penalised by referee Liam Moore for an incorrect play-the-ball to cede possession in range although there had been countless similar incidents that went unpunished.

But the Red Devils, who came from nowhere to reach the Grand Final last term, still had chances and their profligacy hurt them.

At 16-16, former Leeds player Kallum Watkins skipped clear but his pass to Rhys Williams was marginally off the mark and the ball went to ground.

After Gale’s drop-goal, they had another opportunity but went wide instead of settling for a point and Inu fumbled as Leeds - not for the first time - scrambled defensively.

With Rob Burrow in the minds of everyone, it was fitting that the current incumbent of the Leeds No7 jersey should slot the match-winning point.

But this was a team effort, especially when Rhinos were struggling to deal with the loss to injuries of both Adam Cuthbertson and Tom Briscoe at the start of the second period.

Briscoe, thankfully, returned and they managed to hold on.

The winger had given them the lead with his record-breaking seventh Challenge Cup final try after a splendid flick pass from Konrad Hurrell in the 12th minute but Salford responded with a brilliant 80m effort from Williams.

Handley’s first, with Rhyse Martin adding his second conversion, put Leeds 12-6 ahead at the break. Salford hit back to take the lead with tries from Pauli - unconverted - and Greenwood but, critically, they could not muster another response.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson

Editor