Leeds skipper Sinfield stoical after suffering fifth Challenge Cup final defeat
14:24 GMT, 26 August 2012
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield put on a brave face after picking up a fifth losers' medal from the Carnegie Challenge Cup final.
The 32-year-old England international stand-off has led the Rhinos to five Grand Final victories in eight years but is still waiting to get his hands on the Challenge Cup after yesterday's 35-18 defeat by Warrington.
It was Leeds' sixth defeat since their last triumph in 1999 and their third in a row at Wembley after losing to the Wolves in 2010 and Wigan a year ago, but Sinfield remained stoical in defeat.
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield suffered the disappointment of a fifth Challenge Cup final defeat against Warrington Wolves on Saturday
'We're still alive,' he said. 'I think there are far worse things that can happen, certainly in and around the world at the minute.
'Ultimately it's a game and it does hurt a great deal. Obviously we're disappointed but I thought the best team won.'
The Rhinos had genuine hopes of ending their 13-year wait when Sinfield kicked the first of two penalties to edge his side 8-6 in front after 23 minutes, after earlier converting Ian Kirke's first try of the season.
They trailed only 12-10 at half-time and were desperately unfortunate to have a try from Brett Delaney disallowed by video referee Phil Bentham two minutes into the second half.
Warrington full-back Brett Hodgson had no complaints over the tackle from Kylie Leuluai that forced him to spill the ball but Bentham ruled out the score due to a knock-on.
It was the pivotal moment of the match, with the Wolves going on to dominate the last 30 minutes, but Sinfield was not looking for excuses.
Sinfield, 32, had hoped to end the Leeds Rhinos' 13-year wait for the Challenge Cup
'I'd like to see it again,' he said. 'Warrington seemed to get the ascendancy from it.
'But I'm not one to moan about refereeing decisions. I thought Warrington played that last 30 minutes really well.
'We struggled to get out of our own 40 and that shows how well they played. Sometimes you've just got to cop it on the chin.'
Leeds second rower Jamie Jones-Buchanan, who went off with a knee injury towards the end of the first half, collected a fourth losers' medal and admits time is running out for the team's older generation to get their hands on the elusive trophy.
Jamie Peacock is the only Leeds player to have won the Cup – he achieved the feat with Bradford – but Jones-Buchanan believes the crop of youngsters emerging through the ranks could enjoy more successful times in rugby league's famous knockout competition.
The Rhinos had 18-year-old Stevie Ward in their starting line-up and little-known Jimmy Keinhorst making only his fourth senior appearance alongside established youngsters Kallum Watkins, who scored two late consolation tries, Zak Hardaker and Ben Jones-Bishop.
Warrington took the trophy for the eighth time after a 35-18 win at Wembley
'They've got another 10 or 15 years left in them and experiences like that are only going to make them stronger players as time goes by,' Jones-Buchanan, 31, said.
'That's what it's about. Myself and Kev and Rob (Burrow) and Danny Maggs are not going to play forever and at some point that ball is going to have to be passed down to the younger lads.
'Maybe they will win three or four Challenge Cups in the future.'
More immediately, Jones-Buchanan is hoping history will repeat itself before the end of the season.
The Rhinos bounced back from last year's Wembley heartache to win the Grand Final from fifth place and, currently sitting in fifth spot, he sees no reason why they cannot re-produce those heroics.
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (left), Jamie Peacock (centre) and Darrell Griffin stand dejected after the final whistle
'For sure, I don't see why not,' Jones-Buchanan said. 'You've just got to pick yourself up and carry on.
'Last year it was a bit of a catalyst for kicking on for the rest of the season. There's a bit of rugby to be played yet. The season is not written off.'
Leeds have only five days to pick themselves up for the visit of Salford but Sinfield was not yet ready to think about that in the immediate aftermath of his latest disappointment.
'I don't want to think about Friday, if I'm honest,' he said. 'We'll go back to work on Monday, roll our sleeves up and get ready to go.
'But, at this moment in time, being honest, rugby is the last thing I want to think about.'