AS farewells go, this could not have gone much better for the garlanded Jamie Peacock.
From his last game at Wembley before retirement, the Leeds Rhinos prop collected his fourth Challenge Cup winner’s medal, playing a major role in a record-breaking 50-0 rout of Hull KR.
In a real rarity for the 37-year-old, who has endured plenty of defeats at the national stadium, he was even able to actually relax and savour his last few minutes on the pitch with the job already so comfortably complete.
The veteran prop at times played more like a half-back having a hand in three of their nine tries, a lovely deft pass in the first half setting Joel Moon into space for Danny McGuire to cross, and all that was missing was a score of his own.
The closest he came to that was in the sixth minute when Adam Cuthbertson ushered him towards the line only for Kevin Larroyer to desperately strip him of possession as he fell over the whitewash.
The ball did come free, however, and Brett Delaney duly opened the scoring for Leeds.
The Australian said that Peacock told him in the changing room afterwards that he was claiming an assist for his part in the try.
“I am claiming it as an assist,” Peacock confirmed. And why not?
“I did think I was in there (to score) myself but it was a great tackle by Kevin.
“Unfortunately I don’t really like that rule if I’m honest. I don’t think it’s the greatest rule in the game but rules are rules and, so, that’s a try.
“And I know from playing at Wembley before that if you score first and get out in front, then you know you just have to defend well. We did that and pulled away with it in the end.”
Hull KR, who Peacock joins as football manager in December, were always massive underdogs to achieve a victory in their first final in 29 years.
Nevertheless, no one truly expected a defeat of such drastic proportions.
Peacock said: “People talk about underdogs winning finals but underdogs only win when you don’t give them the respect they deserve.
“We did respect Hull KR as a side. We paid Hull KR a lot of respect during the week and I thought you could tell with that our performance.
“It was methodical and we wore them down in the end.
“The week beforehand our coaching staff gave us a great gameplan and as players we were really focused.
“Challenge Cup finals are won by being able to seize some moments. It’s a tough game and incredibly draining playing in it, different to a Grand Final, but I will take all my memories.
“I had a wonderful day and it was really nice to be able to enjoy the final 10 minutes or so knowing we’d won. I could soak up the atmosphere. It’s just a real pleasure to play for such a great team.
“You don’t often get to play in your final season with a set of players and coaches like this.”
Tom Briscoe, of course, scored five tries to set a new record.
Asked if he ever imagined seeing that, Peacock said: “I don’t think HE’D have ever thought he could score five in a Challenge Cup final!
“He was outstanding. But playing in great teams there’s lots of great players and I think we’re all important cogs within it.
“I think because there is no player who essentially stands out above everyone else – we have a lot of very good players – it makes us a difficult side to beat.”