Leeds Rhinos v Wigan: Where the Grand Final will be won and lost

Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield and Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin hold the Super League trophy, at the press conference ahead of the Super League Grand Final, held at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield and Wigan Warriors captain Sean O'Loughlin hold the Super League trophy, at the press conference ahead of the Super League Grand Final, held at Old Trafford, Manchester.
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Yorkshire Evening Post reporter Peter Smith looks at where Saturday’s rugby league showpiece will be won and lost.

Grand Final experience

Leeds’ 19 have a total of 50 Grand Final appearances between them, to Wigan’ 26. But it is three years’ since Rhinos’ previous appearance at Old Trafford. Wigan are featuring in their third successive title decider.

A fit squad

Wigan coach Shaun Wane has been able to leave a player of the quality of winger Josh Charnley out of his Old Trafford squad. Rhinos aren’t exactly down to the bare bones, but four players who would be in today’s 17 - Liam Sutcliffe, Paul Aiton, Stevie Ward and Jamie Jones-Buchanan - are sidelined and teenager Jordan Lilley has been an unused substitute in the past two games.

Goal kicking

Wigan have several options, including Matty Smith and Matty Bowen, who took the duty in last week’s semi-final win over Huddersfield Giants. But Rhinos’ Kevin Sinfield is the best in the business, particularly in pressure situations. He is Super League’s leading kicker this year and in the competition’s history and only two more players have a better points tally.

Attack

Leeds are more potent with ball in hand. They are top scorers in Super League this year, with 944 from their 30 games, an impressive average of 31.46 per game. Wigan are second-highest scorers, with 798 points, at an average of 26.6.

Defence

Wigan have the edge when it comes to keeping the opposition out. They conceded only 530 points in their 30 league matches this year, at an average of 17.66 per game. Rhinos let in 650, at an average of 21.66. Wigan’s defence was the best in the competition, but Huddersfield Giants, St Helens and Warrington Wolves all leaked fewer points than Leeds.

Liam Sutcliffe.

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