THE GREATEST of Leeds Rhinos’ six Grand Final wins was achieved three years ago tomorrow.
On October 6, 2012, Rhinos stunned hot favourites Warrington Wolves 26-18 at Old Trafford to retain the Super League title.
For the second successive year, Rhinos did it from fifth place in the league table, after a disappointing campaign in the weekly rounds.
It is always Warrington’s year, but in 2012 they were confident of finally ending their long wait for the title and things looked to be going their way early on.
The Cheshire outfit went ahead after only 14 minutes, when Richie Myler crossed from Lee Briers’ pass and Brett Hodgson converted, but then Kevin Sinfield stepped up to the plate.
That Grand Final was possibly his finest performance in a Leeds shirt and he took the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring Rhinos’ opening try from a pass by Ryan Hall and booting the conversion for the first of his five goals.
The second was a penalty soon afterwards and the third came following a powerful touchdown by Ben Jones-Bishop, from Danny McGuire’s pass and made it 14-6.
But Warrington weren’t prepared to let Leeds run away with it and they hit back to square the scores at half-time. Joel Monaghan crossed for a try which Hodgson converted and the full-back levelled matters with a penalty on the final kick of the half.
What could have been the game’s key moment came soon after half-time, when Sinfield was knocked out in a heavy collision with Michael Monaghan.
He probably should have gone off – and would have had to under rugby league’s current rules – but got to his feet and played on, only to see Ryan Atkins touch down for a try which edged Warrington back ahead.
Rhinos piled on the pressure after that and it was beginning to look like there would be no way through, but with 22 minutes left Shaun Lunt provided a short pass and Carl Ablett crashed over.
Sinfield kept his composure to edge the defending champions ahead with the conversion and Leeds sealed a famous win with eight minutes left, when Ablett created a try for Hall.
Sinfield was named man of the match and leading tributes to him after the game, Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “He never ceases to amaze. I think Kevin will go down as one of the immortals of the sport. He epitomises everything about the Leeds Rhinos team.”