Challenge Cup: Kevin Sinfield has sympathy for beaten Hull KR

By Ged ScottBBC Sport at Wembley
Leeds Rhinos celebrate
Leeds Rhinos inflicted a record Challenge Cup final defeat on Hull KR

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield showed true sportsmanship after lifting the Challenge Cup for the second successive year by admitting that his first thoughts were for beaten Hull KR.

The Rhinos defeated Rovers 50-0 at Wembley, a record margin of victory in a Challenge Cup final.

Sinfield, 34, had lost in five previous finals before winning the Cup in 2014.

"I know how tough it is to lose so I really feel for Hull KR," the former England captain told BBC Sport.

"I'd lost five finals here before we won last year, so I know how they must be feeling. The scoreboard might not reflect it, but they still gave us a real game."

Leeds coach Brian McDermott added: "We've been playing some real high intensity games in the Super 8s over the last month, whereas they've been playing Championship sides. I think that was a factor."

Sinfield's thoughts were matched by team-mate Jamie Peacock, who will retire at the end of the season to become Hull KR's football manager.

"I feel a bit for Hull KR," said the 37-year-old prop. "Hopefully the Rovers lads can learn next season from my experience.

"But, right now, we want to kick on and win the Super League."

Leeds Rhinos celebrate
Kevin Sinfield (second right) leads Leeds' celebrations after their Wembley victory

Super League title next on agenda

Super League leaders Leeds want to become only the fourth side to win a Grand Final/Challenge Cup double, something Peacock and McDermott managed with Bradford in 2003.

Sinfield explains code change

McDermott says the emotions engendered by the forthcoming losses of Peacock and Sinfield, who will switch codes and join rugby union neighbours Yorkshire Carnegie, could have proved a distraction.

"We never mentioned 'JP' and Kevin before the game as we didn't want to get emotional about it," he continued.

"We had enough pressure on us last year (when Leeds beat Castleford 23-10) when we came here facing seven straight final defeats. That took a lot out of us in the end and we ended up failing against Catalans in the play-offs.

"But now we've got a chance to win all three (including the League Leaders' Shield) and that would be huge. I make no apologies for mentioning it now and saying how much we want to win it as that it would be a really special achievement."

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Leeds winger Tom Briscoe became the first man to score five tries in a Challenge Cup final, a contrast in emotions to being part of the Hull FC side that were prevented from scoring by Wigan in 2013.

"I can remember just what that experience was like," said the 25-year-old England international.

"That made the feeling as I climbed the steps to the royal box even more special.

"It's a great feeling to have scored five tries at Wembley but I did not realise I had broken any try-scoring record until someone told me at the end.

"I owe a lot to Kallum Watkins, who fed me four of my tries. He's got to be one of the best centres in the country, if not the best."

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Hull KR coach Chris Chester, whose side are currently fighting to retain their place in Super League next season, refused to hide behind the controversy that triggered Leeds' match-turning first try at Wembley.

"I don't want to make excuses," said Chester. "Leeds were just too good for us. It was a real professional effort by them.

"Maybe we just froze a bit on the big occasion. It's very tough to take right now but we'll learn from it.

"Super League survival is what we're about now, and we've put ourselves in a good position to do that."