Missed moments from Leeds Rhinos' Grand Final loss to St Helens
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1: The RFL must have been relieved Morgan Knowles didn’t have a major bearing on the final. The build-up was overshadowed by farcical events surrounding the loose-forward who was initially suspended for two games, lost an appeal and then got the green light to play after a second challenge. The sport looked ridiculous and the deafening boos from the Leeds fans when his name was announced made their views clear.
2: Muizz Mustapha, the 22-year-old forward who is set to join Castleford Tigers, warmed up as 18th man for Rhinos before the final and Brad Dwyer, who has turned a number of games off the bench this year, missed out on the 17 for the third successive match, which must have been gut-wrenching. Dwyer will now join Hull FC and it is a shame he didn’t get a proper farewell, though tributes will be paid to all the departing players when Rhinos face New Zealand at Headingley on October 8.
3: Chucking beer - or anything else - at players from the stands isn’t acceptable. Rhinos were on the receiving end after winning their play-off at Catalans and it was Saints winger Tommy Makinson’s turn at the Grand Final. Why he thought it would be a good idea, as the clock ticked down, to run into his own in-goal and hurl the ball towards and taunt Leeds’ supporters is a mystery, but it was a stupid, unnecessary and classless thing to do.
4: Rhinos took the defeat hard, as would be expected. None more so than Harry Newman, the injured centre, who was in tears on the pitch after the final whistle. He’s had a tough year fitness-wise, but the way the second half of the season has gone, Newman and Rhinos can feel confident they’ll be back at Old Trafford sooner rather than later.
5: Grand Final tradition for coaches is jacket and tie, but sadly not baseball caps. Rohan Smith was without his magic hat at Old Trafford, but he and the team should be proud of the advances they’ve made over the past few months.