Leeds Rhinos 22 Wigan Warriors 20: Grand Final glory and historic treble for Rhinos

PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Leeds Rhinos are Super League champions.

Rhinos legends Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai enjoyed a fairytale end to their careers as Wigan were beaten 22-20 in front of a capacity 73,512 crowd at Old Trafford.

It was a remarkable victory for Rhinos, who seemed dead and buried when Wigan led 20-16 at the end of the third quarter.

Rhinos led 16-6 at half-time of the Super League Grand Final, but went four points behind before a man nobody expected to be playing scored the crucial try.

Josh Walters, in only his 21st senior game for Leeds, crossed to level the scores and the last of Kevin Sinfield’s 1,792nd and last competitive goal for the club won it..

Leeds made a positive start, but Wigan went ahead in the fourth minute. Matt Smith’s pass sent Liam Farrell tearing away and he out-paced Kallum Watkins before timing his pass perfectly to the supporting Joe Burgess.

Matt Bowen - who had a magnificent game - converted, but Smith spilled the restart to give Leeds and attacking chance. On the final play Sinfield stabbed a low kick over the line and Danny McGuire read it perfectly, nipping through to touch down.

Referee Ben Thaler gave the try and video assistants Richard Silverwood and Phil Bentham agreed.

Sinfield’s conversion squared it, but Leeds had an escape soon afterwards when Michael McIlorum went for the line, but spilled the ball in a Watkins tackle, assisted by Zak Hardaker.

The second try came on 26 minutes and was a controversial one. McGuire dropped the ball, Hardaker picked up, somehow stayed in play and slipped a pass inside to Joel Moon, who swooped over.

Thaler said try and after a long delay, it was awarded, the officials deciding the ball had gone backwards from McGuire. There was no goal, but Sinfield did improve Leeds’ third try five minutes before the break.

McGuire began it with a long pass to Tom Briscoe. he drew the defence and sent Watkins away, the winger turning the ball inside for McGuire to cross.

That came in the set from a penalty after Hall was tackled in the air by Dominic Manfredi. Thaler originally awarded a drop out, but the decision was corrected by the video pair.

Josh Walters was a surprise selection on the bench for Rhinos, for only his 12th game of the season and his 21st Rhinos appearance.

He replaced Jordan Lilley, who was an unused substitute last week, in the only personnel change to the side which beat St Helens in last weekend’s semi-final.

In positional changes, Jamie Peacock and Brad Singleton started with Kylie Leuluai and Adam Cuthbertson on the bench.

Rhinos led 16-6 at half-time, but two tries in the firt nine minute after the break turned the game on its head.

Leeds made a positive start, but Wigan went ahead in the fourth minute. Matt Smith’s pass sent Liam Farrell tearing away and he out-paced Kallum Watkins before timing his pass perfectly to the supporting Joe Burgess.

Matt Bowen converted, but Smith spilled the restart to give Leeds and attacking chance. On the final play Kev Sinfield stabbed a low kick over the line and Danny McGuire read it perfectly, nipping through to touch down.

Referee Ben Thaler gave the try and video assistants Richard Silverwood and Phil Bentham agreed.

Sinfield’s conversion squared it, but Leeds had an escape soon afterwards when Michael McIlorum went for the line, but spilled the ball in a Watkins tackle, assisted by Zak Hardaker.

The second try came on 26 minutes and was a controversial one. McGuire dropped the ball, Hardaker picked up, somehow stayed in play and slipped a pass inside to Joel Moon, who swooped over.

Thaler said try and after a long delay, it was awarded, the officials deciding the ball had gone backwards from McGuire. There was no goal, but Sinfield did improve Leeds’ third try five minutes before the break.

McGuire began it with a long pass to Tom Briscoe. he drew the defence and sent Watkins away, the winger turning the ball inside for McGuire to cross.

That came in the set from a penalty after Hall was tackled in the air by Dominic Manfredi. Thaler originally awarded a drop out, but the decision was corrected by the video pair.

A knock on by McGuire from Peacock’s offload put Leeds under pressure at the start of the second half.

A penalty and drop out kept Wigan camped near Rhinos’ line and on the last, Sean O’Loughlin cross-kicked, Ryan Hall made the catch, but Dom Manfredi snatched the ball from his grasp and nipped over for a try which Bowen improved.

In the next set, Briscoe knocked down a pass to concede a scrum and from that Bowen burst through the defence for a brilliant solo trym, which he converted to edge Wigan 18-16 ahead.

Bowen booted another goal after Watkins was penalised for not clearing the ruck, but McGuire’s towering kick was lost by Manfredi straight to Moon.

He shipped it on to Jimmy Keinhorst and his pass put Josh Walters over. Sinfield converted to edge Rhinos back in front with 17 minutes left. and Rhinos held on through a tense finale to complete their first clean sweep of trophies, after also winning the Challenge Cup and league leaders’ shield.

Walters was a surprise selection on the bench for Rhinos, for only his 12th game of the season and his 21st Rhinos appearance.

He replaced Jordan Lilley, who was an unused substitute last week, in the only personnel change to the side which beat St Helens in last weekend’s semi-final.

In positional changes, Jamie Peacock and Brad Singleton started with Kylie Leuluai and Adam Cuthbertson on the bench.

Jack Walker

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