IT WAS one of the toughest, most intense games seen in Super League.
On September 28, 2007, Leeds Rhinos took on St Helens at Knowsley Road with a place in the Grand Final at Old Trafford up for grabs.
Saints – treble winners the previous year – had topped the table by a point from Leeds. Under the play-offs format then in use, the leading pair met in a qualifying semi-final on the league leaders’ ground.
The winners would progress to the title decider 15 days later, while the beaten team had another chance in a home elimination tie the next weekend.
Saints had narrowly been the most consistent side over the course of the season, but Leeds started to hit their stride in August, after successive defeats by Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Their season looked to be crumbling when they trailed 16-6 at half-time away to London Broncos, but they scored 48 points in the second half to run out 54-20 winners and rarely looked back.
Though Hull won at Headingley the following month, Leeds travelled to Saints in confident mood and good form.
They took the lead through a Lee Smith interception try, which Kevin Sinfield converted before missing with a penalty attempt.
Saints replied when Leon Pryce crossed, Matty Smith adding the extras and then a penalty goal.
It was 8-6 at the break, but Sinfield levelled with a penalty goal and Leeds dominated the second period.
They could not find a way through Saints’ defence, though and a Smith penalty with 14 minutes left secured a 10-8 win for the hosts.
Both sides gave their all, but Leeds appeared the fresher team and though the result went against them, that tie convinced them they could turn the tables if they reached Old Trafford.
Rhinos went on to beat Wigan 36-6 in the final eliminator and outclassed weary Saints 33-6 to lift the Super League trophy for the second time.
St Helens 10
(Try: Pryce. Goals: Smith 3)
Leeds Rhinos 8 (Try: Smith. Goals: Sinfield 2)
September 28, 2007, Super League play-off
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Smith, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Flannery, Wilkin. Subs Roby, Bennett, Graham, Clough.
Leeds: Webb, Donald, Toopi, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Leuluai, Diskin, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ellis, Sinfield. Subs Lauitiiti, Ablett, Tansey, Kirke.
Referee: Ashley Klein.
Rhinos were beaten 24-4 at Wigan Warriors eight years ago today. Ryan Hall scored the defending champions’ only try.
Leeds beat Hull 28-22 in a notorious Challenge Cup semi-final on this day in 2000. Richie Blackmore, Ryan Sheridan, Francis Cummins and Anthony Farrell crossed for Leeds and Iestyn Harris kicked six goals, but the game was overshadowed by a pitch invasion by Hull fans after the final whistle.
Leeds reached Wembley with a 7-2 Challenge Cup semi-final win over holders St Helens at Wigan’s Central Park 41 years ago today. John Atkinson scored a try, Brian Murrell kicked a goal and John Holmes landed two one-pointers.
Two tries by Wilf Rosenberg helped Leeds to a 23-9 win against Keighley at Headingley on March 26, 1960. Other try scorers were Eddie Ratcliffe, Derek Hallas and Del Hodgkinson and Lewis Jones kicked four goals.