Wigan v Leeds Rhinos: YEP Jury give their predictions

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Our YEP Jury give their verdicts on Leeds Rhinos’ Grand Final encounter with Wigan Warriors.

Craig Tarbotton

Leeds Rhinos players celebrate their semi-final win over St Helens.

Leeds Rhinos players celebrate their semi-final win over St Helens.

The rugby league gods were looking down on Headingley last Friday night, the fairy tale of Jamie Peacock, Kevin Sinfield and Kylie Leuluai playing their final game for the Rhinos in the Grand Final and completing a famous treble is well and truly on. Who would back against them?

Last week’s game was one of the best games I’ve been to in a long time, the atmosphere was incredible, the whole stadium was bouncing and what a fantastic game it was.

Saints took an early advantage and led by a single point at half-time. As time was ticking by it seemed nothing was going in our favour.

Every 50/50 decision went against us, every bounce went St Helens’ way as we struggled to get a hold in the game. We needed a spark, a touch of magic and who should step up and turn the game on its head? Sir Kev that’s who, he kicked a peach of a 40/20 to swing the game back in our favour.

Ryan Hall who earlier had lost the ball in the tackle to gift Saints a try was on hand to power over the line to put Leeds in the driving seat.

I’m still trying to figure out how he managed to get that ball down as it looked like the Saints defence made a fantastic effort to hold him up. Sinfield kicked the extras and we were almost home and dry.

It was a nervous last 10 minutes as we led by a single point, as Saints chased the game a sloppy pass inside their own half bounced nicely for Kallum Watkins who scooped up the ball and waltzed over the try line to the joy of the Headingley faithful.

It was what we deserved, the boys put in a great effort, I remember Jamie Peacock leaving the field at one point with nothing left in the tank after scrambling back in defence only to come back on and take the game to St Helens.

A true warrior who will be greatly missed around the club next year. It’s been an incredible season, I believe we can beat the Warriors on Saturday in what will be an emotional day. I know whatever the outcome the boys will give it everything and I’m so proud to be a Rhino, win or lose!

Anne Bosanquet

That 80 minutes between Leeds and Saints was some of the best I’ve seen all season.

It was a proper semi-final game with all the twists and turns.

Both teams turned up and were keen for a win.

St Helens put points on the board first and it took us a while to respond.

It was an intense first half with both teams levelling and then Walsh added a drop goal to take the lead 9-8.

The second half was more of the same and we were determined with an impressive few sets.

However Saints went ahead again and, I’ll be honest, with about 15 minutes left I thought we’d nothing left in our tanks.

Carl Ablett’s try was disallowed and Saints looked like they could hold on to the win.

However, our older players – Sinfield, McGuire and Burrow – took charge on the pitch and pushed the team. Ryan Hall scored another impressive try and Kevin Sinfield converted, leaving us at 14-13.

It was a nailbiting last 10 minutes. Kallum Watkins scored his 100th try and Sinfield sealed the deal winning the game 20-13.

The emotion of the night was written on the players’ faces at the end.

Old Trafford waits for us, and I’m sure Wigan will want it just as much as us. I’m dreaming of the treble.

Dianne Hall

The dream send-off is still alive.

A tense, emotional game full of drama and skill, which was changed our way with a brilliant 40/20 by Sir Kev.

Wigan Warriors await us in the Grand Final, payback time for 1998.

I’d like a clean sweep!

Graham Poulter

THE DREAM of the treble is well and truly still alive for Leeds Rhinos, after what was an epic, fantastic semi-final win against a very good St Helens team to set up a Grand Final meeting with Wigan at Old Trafford.

Saints’ defence was very strong for pretty much the whole of the game, until our master kicking supremo ‘Sir’ Kevin produced a moment of inspirational magic of the 40/20 kind.

Leeds grew another leg from that moment onwards, and an injection of energy was instilled in them And, of course, we then went on to win the game.

If there is any justice, then this fantastic Leeds team will win against Wigan to complete a memorable season.

Come on Leeds – believe.

History is beckoning!

Jamie Smith

Another late finish to a game means that there’ is still one more chapter of this fairytale season to be written as we deservedly return to Old Trafford.

A tough game awaits on Saturday, but Sir Kev will once again lift the trophy. Rhinos win by six.

Jon Winter

One of the best atmospheres I’ve been to at Headingley over the years, the roar when Kallum Watkins went over was as loud as any response to a try that I can remember.

I can’t, however, remember a second half being more nervous; Saints seemed to be controlling the game.

Luke Walsh’s kicking game was superb and we were struggling to find metres at this stage in the match.

But Kevin Sinfield’s 40/20 changed the game and, for the last 10 minutes, Saints couldn’t keep up with us.

There would be no better ending for Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and Kevin Sinfield than for them to go out at Old Trafford as treble winners.

Wigan Warriors will be favourites, but NEVER write-off a Rhino.

Lewis Jones of Leeds RL places the ball under the posts  at Headingley. He put the boot into Halifax on the way to Wembley in March 1957.

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