Leeds Rhinos win thrilling Grand Final over Wigan to take the treble
In what was one of the best Grand Finals for years, Leeds Rhinos narrowly edged Wigan Warriors 22-20 at Old Trafford as they completed a clean sweep of trophies.
With departing trio Jamie Peacock, Kylie Leuluai and captain Kevin Sinfield all playing their last ever match for the Rhinos, this seemed to give the West Yorkshire outfit an edge, with the rest of the team determined to give them a good send-off.
However, it wasn’t going to be as straightforward as that, when in the opening minutes, the Warriors struck as Joe Burgess crossed after a great break from Liam Farrell.
What followed sums up how the Rhinos have played all season. A long kick from the restart saw Matty Smith lose concentration and concede a set of six inside Wigan’s 10 metre line, from which Danny McGuire scored after a superbly executed move.
From then until half time, Leeds seemed in the driving seat. Strong in defence and daring in attack, they scored two more brilliant tries, which summed up their endeavour more than anything. Another sensational try from McGuire and a Joel Moon effort saw the Rhinos surge into a 16-6 lead at the break.
Whatever coach Shaun Wane said to his side at half time worked wonders, as in less than 10 minutes the Cherry and Whites were back in front, as Dominic Manfredi stunned Ryan Hall with a ball steal following a chip kick to crash over, while the lively Matty Bowen danced through Leeds’ lines to add another four points and kick the extras.
A penalty saw the Warriors go another two points in front with the scoreline at 20-16 though there was a feeling around the ground, that the match was far from over.
Digging deep, the Rhinos laid siege to Wigan’s defence and were eventually rewarded when 20-year-old Josh Walters thundered over to give Sinfield an easy kick as Leeds edged back ahead by two.
From then on, it was a defensive masterclass as Brian McDermott’s side dug in, with Peacock and Sinfield leading by example. No doubt, these are two characters who will be sorely missed, along with Leuluai, though it was a fitting way, to end their Leeds careers.