THIRTEEN YEARS ago today Leeds Rhinos beat Bradford Bulls 16-8 at Old Trafford to become Super League champions for the first time.
It was an emotional night for Rhinos – who had waited since 1972 for the club’s fourth championship – and began what was to become a record-breaking dominance of the European game. Leeds’ first Super League triumph featured three men who also played in their eighth nine days ago.
Danny McGuire was at scrum-half and Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Rob Burrow both featured off the bench.
McGuire – scorer of two tries and man of the match in this season’s Grand Final victory against Castleford Tigers – went over for the try which sealed Leeds’ success.
Leeds were holding on to a 10-8 lead with five minutes left when a knock-on by Robbie Paul led to a scrum close to Bradford’s line.
McGuire fed Keith Senior and he slipped the ball back to the No6 who cut inside and dived jubilantly over the line.
Kevin Sinfield’s conversion edged Leeds two scores ahead and began the celebrations on and off the pitch. The game was a tight, tense contest dominated by defence and Sinfield’s kicking proved the difference after the four tries were shared.
Bulls were the defending champions. They finished second in the table, nine points behind Rhinos, but it was expected their big-game experience would prove too much for the league leaders.
Leeds scored first through a Sinfield penalty, but Bulls took the lead on seven minutes when Lesley Vainikolo crossed.
Matt Diskin, who went on to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match, went over from acting-half on 15 minutes and Sinfield converted before making it 10-4 at the break with another penalty.
Shontayne Hape – who’d had a touchdown ruled out by the video referee in the first half – grabbed an unconverted try just three minutes into the second and there was no further scoring until McGuire’s late winner.
Speaking afterwards, McGuire said: “A lot of people wrote us off. Bradford have been here four years on the trot and they expected us to fold in the big match, but we’ve proved them wrong.”
Leeds Rhinos 16 (Tries: Diskin, McGuire. Goals: Sinfield 4)
Bradford Bulls 8 (Tries: Vainikolo, Hape).
October 16, 2004. Super League Grand Final, at Old Trafford.
Leeds Rhinos: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Sinfield, McGuire, Ward, Diskin, Bailey, McKenna, Lauitiiti, Furner. Subs: Burrow, McDermott, Poching, Jones-Buchanan.
Bradford Bulls: Withers, Reardon, Johnson, Hape, Vainikolo, Harris, Deacon, Vagana, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Swann, Radford. Subs: Langley, Pratt, Anderson, Parker.
Referee: Steve Ganson.