Danny McGuire inspires Leeds Rhinos to thrilling Grand Final triumph on farewell

Rhinos celebrate Danny McGuire's first try
Rhinos celebrate Danny McGuire's first try
0
Have your say

Captain Danny McGuire bowed out of Leeds Rhinos with a man of the match performance as they upset the odds - and league leaders Castleford Tigers - to win an eighth Super League title.

McGuire, in his final game before joining Hull KR, scored two tries in Leeds’ 24-6 win, created another, made a vital try-saving tackle and booted two drop goals.

18-year-old Jack Walker on the attack for the Rhinos

18-year-old Jack Walker on the attack for the Rhinos

There was a late cameo from Rob Burrow - who will now hang up his boots - and he put in the kick for Leeds’ fourth and final try.

It was Leeds’ best performance of the season - and maybe since their 2015 title triumph - against a team who had beaten them four times this year and finished 10 points clear at the top of the table.

They were the better team across the board, with McGuire and Joel Moon flourishing behind a strong pack.

Tigers have been the best team all year, but they froze on the biggest stage. They applied pressure for spells, but made a host of errors and only avoided a whitewash through a converted try on the final play.

The Rhinos squad celebrate Tom Briscoe's try in the first half

The Rhinos squad celebrate Tom Briscoe's try in the first half

Rhinos were unchanged from their semi-final win over Saints.

Without Zak Hardaker, dropped for breaching club rules, Tigers coach Daryl Powell shifted Greg Eden to full-back and Jy Hitchcox came in on the left-wing.

Oliver Holmes returned in the second-row, after recovering from a groin injury and Alex Foster moved to the bench, with Gadwin Springer dropping out.

Rhinos had two touchdowns ruled out by video official Phil Bentham in the first half - both of which referee Child would have given - and Tigers were denied once.

Matt Parcell clears from a scrum.

Matt Parcell clears from a scrum.

Cas applied early pressure and turned down two points from a penalty close to the posts after just three minutes, when Brad Singleton failed to clear the ruck.

That was a mistake. Leeds went ahead on 12 minutes., in the set from a goalline drop out. Tigers’ Ben Roberts made a try-saving tackle on the outstanding Liam Sutcliffe and Mitch Garbutt, who also had a big game, almost forced his way over.

Then McGuire kicked to the corner and Tom Briscoe got to the ball before Hitchcox and managed to touch down cleanly.

Bentham gave the green light - agreeing with Child’s opinion - and Kallum Watkins converted from out wide.

Danny McGuire dives over for Leeds' second try

Danny McGuire dives over for Leeds' second try

That was the only try of the opening 40, but there was plenty of incident. Watkins thought he had scored from a McGuire kick and Child agreed, but Bentham decided he had lost possession over the line.

A desperate tackle by McGuire jarred the ball loose from Hitchcox’s grasp when he looked certain to score, then the winger did get the ball down from Luke Gale’s kick.

But Child thought the scrum-half had run behind a teammate before putting boot to ball and Bentham agreed.

That came after a spell of heavy pressure following a series of handling error by Leeds near their own line.

Four minutes before the interval McGuire kicked ahead on a free play and Briscoe touched down, but though Child thought it was a try Bentham decided he had pushed Paul McShane off the ball first.

There was still time for McGuire to land a drop goal on the final play of the half and Rhinos went further in front 11 minutes into the second stanza.

Moon put up a towering kick, Eden lost it under pressure from Hall and McGuire picked up to dive over. Child said try and Bentham, eventually, agreed, though Watkins could not add the goal.

Eight minutes later a tremendous run by 18-year-old Jack Walker - now the youngest Grand Final winner - took Rhinos close to Cas’ line, then Matt Parcell was held up over it.

Leeds moved the ball right and Moon stepped before slipping out a pass to send Briscoe over for his second try.

The final pass looked forward, but the score was awarded and Watkins’ magnificent touchline goal made it 17-0.

Leeds sealed it with 11 minutes left. Burrow slid a kick towards the line, Mike McMeeken fumbled and McGuire dived on the ball.

Bentham confirmed the decision of try and Watkins converted. Eden got over the line seven minutes from time, but Bentham spotted a foot in touch by Hitchcox before he passed him the ball.

McGuire landed a drop goal four minutes from time, but in the 79th minute Alex Foster barged over and Gale added the conversion with the final kick.

It was a remarkable effort by Leeds second-row Stevie Ward, who played the full 80 minutes just eight days after suffering a dislocated shoulder.

Harry Newman signs his new deal with Gary Hetherington watching on.

Young centre Harry Newman pens three-year contract at Leeds Rhinos