SEVEN YEARS ago, Leeds Rhinos were celebrating their famous three-peat.
An 18-10 win over St Helens at Old Trafford, on October 10, 2009, was their third third successive Grand Final triumph.
The tense title triumph put the icing on the cake after Leeds had finished top of Super League, four points clear of Saints.
The Grand Final victory was Rhinos’ eighth successive win – a run stretching back to August – and they lost just one of their last 16 games.
There was no doubt Rhinos were worthy champions, but the success at Old Trafford was controversial.
Leeds were leading by one point with seven minutes left when Lee Smith touched down from Danny McGuire’s kick.
Referee Steve Ganson wasn’t sure and asked his video assistant Phil Bentham to make the decision.
The crowd of 63,259 held their breath as replays seemed to suggest Smith – in his final game before a move to rugby union – was marginally in front of McGuire when the kick was made, but Bentham gave the green light and Sinfield’s conversion made it 17-10.
Remarkably, that was Smith’s third try in as many Grand Finals and he played in a different position each time: wing in 2007, full-back in 2008 and centre in 2009.
Rob Burrow landed a drop goal two minutes from time to complete Leeds’ historic triumph.
They had trailed 8-0 to a try, conversion and penalty by Kyle Eastmond, but Matt Diskin powered over from close range and Smith touched down after an error by Francis Meli.
Neither try was converted so it was all square at the break, but Sinfield – the eventual man of the match – booted Leeds in front with a drop goal soon afterwards.
Eastmond and Sinfield then exchanged penalties and the Rhinos captain made a try-saving tackle on Eastmond before the late drama, which is still being argued about now.