LEEDS Rhinos secured a historic treble after a tense 22-20 Grand Final victory over Wigan Warriors in the climax to the Super League season at Old Trafford. Andie Riley was there…
What more could be written about this season’s grand final?
Leeds meeting Wigan for the seventh time in a major final, but the Warriors hold the hoodoo with six wins in major finals.
Leeds started the brighter, but Wigan were certainly at Old Trafford to do more than provide a back drop to the Leeds trinity of Peacock, Sinfield and Leuluai who were all playing their final game for the club.
Wigan took the lead after a wonderful break by Liam Farrell allowed an offload to the NRL bound Joe Burgess, which allowed Matty Bowen to make it 0-6 to Wigan after 15 minutes.
However, from the restart, Matty Smith knocked on and allowed the Leeds Rhinos to strike back from inside the Warriors 20m.
A lovely grubber kick from Kevin Sinfield allowed Danny McGuire to bring Leeds right back into the game once Sinfield converted to leave it 6-6 after just 7 minutes.
The play went too and fro for the next 20 minutes or so, as both teams tried to find a way through each others defence, to no avail.
Then, on the half hour mark, Joel Moon went over and after consultation with the video referee looking for a possible knock on in the build up, Leeds were in front 10-6 after Sinfield missed the conversion.
After Ryan Hall was tackled in the air by Wigans Dom Manfredi, and referee Ben Thaler initially gave a drop out, Leeds started on their 20m line and went on the attack
Leeds started to look in control by now, and went even further ahead after McGuire went over for his second, after a beautiful offload from Callum Watkins, and with Sinfield finding his range, Leeds went into the break leading 16-6.
Whatever Warriors coach said to his charges during the break, it worked.
The cherry and whites went over after 6 minutes through Manfredi, after building the pressure up, he out leapt Hall and fell over the line to allow Bowen to make it 16-12.
They went ahead just three minutes later, as Bowen went over under the posts after dancing through the Rhinos defence, and converted, after five consecutive sets, to make it 16-18.
With 20 minutes left, Watkins gave away a penalty, allowing Wigan to extend their lead to 4 points.
Leeds looked almost shell shocked as the Warriors really dominated the game.
However, just four minutes later, the youngster Josh Walters went over to pull the game level at 20-20 before Sinfield gave the Rhinos the lead at 22-20.
Not long after that, we had a streaker who managed to show just how cold Manchester is in early October, meaning that the crowd of 73512 was down by one…
Leeds managed to defend their lead like lions, and showed just why they are the best club in the competition.
With Wigan chasing the game, one or two high shots allowed Leeds to run the clock down and give the club the treble for the first time in the clubs history.
As the hooter went, the look of joy on the players faces was hard earned, and the disappointment on the Warriors was just as palpable.
This was easily the best grand final of modern times. It was the fairy tale ending to three glittering careers as Sinfield lifted the trophy for the last time as a Rhinos player, although the Harry Sunderland trophy for man of the match went to the two try Danny McGuire.
By Andie Riley at Old Trafford