BOSS BRIAN McDermott saluted a “huge achievement” after Leeds Rhinos beat Hull 18-16 to qualify for their 10th Super League Grand Final.
Rhinos – who finished ninth last year and flirted with relegation in the Qualifiers – will face league leaders and neighbours Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford a week today.
McDermott had predicted after Rhinos’ record 66-10 defeat at Castleford Tigers in March, Leeds could reach the Grand Final.
It will be his fourth title decider in seven seasons as Rhinos’ coach.
An emotional McDermott said: “The job’s not done and if we don’t win next week it’ll hurt, but I think that’s a huge achievement from the players who have endured huge ridicule and things written about them.
“For them to finish second with three games to go, is a big thing. To get through to the Grand Final now is big.”
Tigers have beaten Leeds four times this year and McDermott added: “Castleford are a good team, extremely good.
“We’ll have to be better than we were tonight and nail every area of the game.“
Stevie Ward is “doubtful” for the final. McDermott said: “He’s popped his shoulder, he is in hospital.”
Hull coach Lee Radford had no complaints. He said: “We’re hugely disappointed, we just fell short unfortunately.
“We got beaten by the better team on the night and I’d like to wish Leeds and Castleford all the best next week – I am sure it’ll be a fascinating final and a great advert for the game.”