DURING MORE than a decade in Super League Ali Lauitiiti was a hero at both Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
The former New Zealand Test back-rower joined Rhinos midway through the 2004 season and played a key role in their first championship triumph for 32 years.
His 200th and last game for Leeds was the 2011 Grand Final win over St Helens.
He joined Wakefield the following year and spent four seasons there before returning to New Zealand at the end of the 2015 campaign.
Eight years ago today he made the match-winning contribution for Rhinos as they ended the regular season with a hard-fought 30-12 win over Wildcats at Belle Vue.
The game had been scheduled for two days later, but was brought forward to Friday night to kick off at the same time as St Helens’ derby against Wigan Warriors.
Saints went into round 27 as league leaders, two points clear of Leeds and with a better for and against of 51, so there was everything to play for.
In wet conditions, Wakefield made life tough for the defending champions and it was 12-12 with a quarter of the game remaining.
But then Lauitiiti created the game-breaking try for Kevin Sinfield on 61 minutes, went over from acting-half himself seven later – for a try which Rob Burrow improved – and added a second to seal a 30-12 victory with six minutes left.
Earlier, Wakefield went ahead through a Danny Brough drop goal before Jordan Tansey touched down for Leeds and Sinfield landed the first of his four goals.
Scott Grix crossed to level the scores and then added a second, which Brough converted.
Scott Donald squared matters three minutes before the break with a stunning solo try, chipping ahead and racing through the defence to regather.
Saints were held to a 16-16 draw by Wigan and so finished top of the table, one point ahead of Leeds. Catalans Dragons were third, a massive eight points adrift.
(Tries Grix 2. Goals Brough 2)
Leeds Rhinos 30 (Tries Lauitiiti 2, Tansey, Donald, Sinfield. Goals Sinfield 4, Burrow)
super league september 5, 2008
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Grix, Blanch, Martin, Atkins, Petersen, Rooney, Brough, Watene, Drew, Bibey, MacGillvray, Golden, Demetriou. Subs Leo-Latu, Wilkes, Sculthorpe, Henderson.
Leeds Rhinos: Webb, Smith, Ablett, Senior, Donald, McGuire, Burrow, Scruton, Tansey, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield. Subs Bailey, Jones-Buchanan, Burgess, Kirke.