Rugby league immortalised five of its greats in bronze on Saturday and Tom Briscoe produced a Challenge Cup Final display to rival any of their most memorable as Leeds ran riot against Hull KR.
A statue of Eric Ashton, Billy Boston, Alex Murphy, Martin Offiah and Gus Risman now stands along from the one of Sir Bobby Moore and, hours after it had been unveiled, Briscoe delivered a for-the-ages performance by scoring five tries as Leeds won 50-0.
Briscoe - a Wembley loser with KR’s rivals Hull FC in 2008 and 2013 - equalled the record four tries scored by Leeds’ Leroy Rivett in 1999 and then went clear on his own with a late fifth to cap off the sweetest of days, also winning the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match.
“It’s pretty incredible,” the England winger said. “It’s a special achievement for myself; I wasn’t aware of if until after the game when someone told me I had broken the record and it was four prior to this game. It was a very special moment for me personally.
“When you’re doing it, it doesn’t feel real and it’s starting to sink in now.”
Briscoe broke his foot for Hull at the national stadium in 2008 and has tasted both victory and defeat at Wembley, now winning the trophy twice with Leeds.
“The first final I played in I got injured and a similar story to Hull KR today, I got nilled in 2013, so I know how they’re feeling at the minute but that low builds for an incredible feeling when you’re walking up those stairs,” he said.
Victorious coach Brian McDermott praised his players for handling the pressure of being overwhelming favourites.
“To score 50 points and nil someone is huge. We were outstanding in terms of handling the pressure of being the favourites,” he said.
“I’ve been involved in enough losses to know not to take anything for granted. I told them, ‘if anyone wants to have a cup of tea and relax, it’s only Hull KR’, you will lose.”
Leeds prepared for the final in Super 8s action while Hull KR were consigned to facing Championship opposition after finishing in the Middle 8s.
“Hull KR have had it pretty tough in terms of the opposition they have faced,” Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield - on his final Challenge Cup appearance before a move to union - said.
“We have been ready because of the opponents we have faced. I really feel for Hull KR. I have lost five finals and I know how it feels. People will say ‘are you mad?’ but it was tough.
“I would urge their fans to stick with them as I know how much hurt those guys will feel in their dressing room.”
For sorry Hull KR, it was a game too far. Fourteen of their players had no final experience and, even for those who had, this was a harrowing experience.
The decision to play Kieron Dixon at full-back backfired badly with the Londoner’s display riddled with errors and coach Chris Chester admitted his side deserved all they got.
“The players are pretty downbeat,” he said. “I told the boys to be proud of their efforts. It took a lot of hard work to get us in this position but that was not a true reflection of Hull Kingston Rovers.
“Everything was too quick for us. We came out in the second half, dropped the ball four times and champion sides like Leeds don’t need leg-ups. They were too good for us on the day.
“Some of the boys maybe froze on the big stage but I’m proud of them. It’s been a great journey and coming here has made up want to come back. They were too good.”