Lancashire won the Origin Series 2-0, but only after a remarkable second half at Headingley last night that saw a 30-point lead all but wiped out. Five tries in 13 minutes brought Yorkshire back from a seemingly hopeless position and it took John Stankevitch's try seven minutes from time to deny them one of the most outrageous of fightbacks.
Lancashire, already without Andy Farrell and Chris Joynt, suffered a further blow when Paul Sculthorpe went off after a clash of heads. Despite that, they took the lead almost immediately, Kevin Sinfield and Paul Johnson setting up Kris Radlinski.
Lancashire extended their lead after 17 minutes when Sinfield opened the way for Radlinski and Stuart Donlan cut inside for their second try, Paul Deacon again converting.
Lancashire continued to look capable of pulling the home defence apart on every attack and they did so again on 28 minutes, Sculthorpe's replacement, Lee Briers, delaying his pass to Stankevitch and Paul Wellens twisting his way over the line.
Four minutes before half-time, Terry Newton bounced out of Paul King's tackle for a fourth converted Lancashire try. When Sinfield sent Johnson through another gap in injury time, the question of whether Yorkshire might square the series and take it into a "golden point" decider appeared purely academic.
With such a lead it was hardly surprising that Lancashire eased off after the break and Keith Senior got Yorkshire on the scoreboard with a spectacular 50-yard dash down the touchline.
Four minutes later, Danny Orr laid one on for Matt Diskin and added a second goal. Diskin went over from dummy-half to make it three tries in seven minutes.
Mark Hilton should have ended the fightback, but lost the ball in touching down. Straight away Karl Pratt raced away for another long-range Yorkshire try and Orr kicked his fourth goal to cut the arrears to six. Incredibly, that was reduced to two as Pratt grabbed his second.
Lancashire were hanging on desperately, but Sinfield's pass to Stankevitch and the faultless Deacon's sixth goal averted the unthinkable.
YORKSHIRE: Horne (Hull); Calderwood (Leeds), Gilmour (Bradford), Senior (Leeds), Hodgson (Wigan); Pryce (Bradford), Sheridan (Leeds); Fozzard (Warrington), Diskin (Leeds), Farrell (Widnes), Hay (Leeds), Peacock (Bradford), Radford (Bradford). Substitutes used: Pratt (Leeds), Orr (Castleford), Westwood (Warrington), King (Hull).
LANCASHIRE: Radlinski (Wigan); Stewart (St Helens), Johnson (Wigan), Wellens (St Helens), Donlan (Halifax); Sculthorpe (St Helens), Deacon (Bradford); O'Connor (Wigan), Newton (Wigan), McDermott (Leeds), Wild (Wigan), Stankevitch (St Helens), Sinfield (Leeds). Substitutes used: Briers (Warrington), Hilton (Warrington), Alker (Salford), Mills (Widnes).
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens).
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