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Champions, Champions, Champions - So Good We Did It Thrice
Posted by southstander on October 10 2009 - 22:10:24

Two of the Best

For the first time in three Grand Finals the Rhinos travelled to Old Trafford to take on the Saints as clear favourites.

Saints needed the win to overcome two years of pain at the hands of the Rhinos and Potter needed some silverware in an otherwise barren season. This was Sean Longs swansong and there were scores from Graham and Wilkin which needed to be settled.

Would Leeds have the spirit and motivation to be Champions for a third consecutive season? You bet!

We bring you all of the action here......

18

Rhinos

v

Saints

10

Superleague XIV

Grand Final - Old Trafford

10th October 2009

Champions, Champions, Champions - So Good We Did It Thrice

The opening ten minutes set the scene. It wasn't going to be pretty.

From the off this game had all the makings of an edgy arm wrestle with most of the play up the middle, defences on top, and forced errors being the aim of each big hit...and there were some boneshakers.

Saints had the best of the early territory and it came as little surprise when the opened the scoring. What looked like a nothing grubber kick hit Lee Smith and bounced into the arms of Kyle Eastmond. Playing in the centres, Eastmond accepted the gift wrapped invitation and went over un-opposed next to the sticks. He converted his own try for a six-nil lead after thirteen minutes.

That lead was extended on twenty-six with a penalty goal after 'Saint' Steve awarded a penalty against Senior for an offence which only his, in over sixty-three thousand pairs of eyes, saw. Eastmond kicked the goal for 8-0 to the underdogs. Were we worried? Not really, there was a long way to go.

A triple substitution for Leeds with Ali, Kirke and Burgess all making their first appearance of the night, seemed to kick the Rhinos into action. After working close to the Saints line with five tackles, Diskin took the ball at acting-half and burrowed over the line to score a try more akin to those that Cunningham has been scoring his entire career. Sinfield hit the upright with the conversion attempt but we were back within four.


Skippers Knock

With four minutes remaining the Rhinos levelled the score thanks to a howler from Saints winger Francis Meli.

Leeds were on their last tackle when McGuire put in a grubber. Meli was first to the ball and tried to scoop it dead but only succeeded in pushing into the scoring area where Smith pounced to touch down. Sinfield again failed with the conversion and with the scores tied at 8-8 we went into the interval.

Saints had dominated in big chunks but the Rhinos had hit them with a double-whammy in the last ten. The scores were level but we had the initiative, I had no concern over what the final outcome would be.

Sinfield started the second half like he knew it would be close when he kicked a field goal on the very first leeds attack on forty-one minutes. We had the lead for the first time in the game.

On forty-five Gardner nearly went over in the corner but Hall and Webb managed to get him into touch before he touched down. On fifty-nine the Saints re-established their lead when Eastmond goaled a penalty after Webb was judged to have tackled Long around the neck. Now it was 9-10, but I was still confident.


Superb
On sixty-five a Sinfield goal from in front of the sticks after interference at the play-the-ball took back the lead at 11-10, and we wouldn't surrender is again.

A great Sinfield tackle on Eastmond forced him into the corner flag just before he touched down, and that was the signal for the Rhinos to finish off the Saints.

With six minutes remaining a moment of magic as McGuire put in a grubber which was caught and scored behind the sticks by Lee Smith (now in his last few minutes of rugby league). The decision went to the video referee who pondered hard before deciding that both of Smiths feet were behind the ball when it left McGuires boot. We all sighed relief on a decision which could have gone either way, and when Sinfield banged over the conversion we knew we were home at 17-10.

A Burrow drop-goal with two minutes left rubbed salt into a gaping Saints wound and once again the lads had done it and claimed the games biggest prize.

This wasn't a classic by any means and the Rhinos were far from their best, but it was a performance with enough grit and determination to overcome a Saints side who were painfully desperate for the win and who must now be absolutley shattered at their third consecutive failure.

There were plenty of big Leeds performances out their tonight, especially Smith, Diskin, McGuire and Peacock who were all outstanding.

Kevin Sinfield deserved the Harry Sunderland Trophy for man of the match and his dedication of the Superleague win to John Holmes at the presentation of the trophy was a nice touch. Everyone must now acknowledge that the Rhinos are the best team in the competition, and with this record breaking third win, the best in the Superleague era. Now is a great time to be a Rhinos fan, and who is to say that we won't go on to win a fourth and a fifth title?


Please vote for your Man-of-the-Match in the front page poll.


Match Facts

Rhinos
Saints
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
1
Wellens
2
Donald
2
Gardner
3
Smith
2
3
Gidley
4
Senior
18
Eastmond
1
3
5
Hall
5
Meli
6
McGuire
6
Pryce
7
Burrow
1
7
Long
8
Leuluai
10
Graham
14
Diskin
1
9
Cunningham
10
Peacock
16
Puletua
18
Ablett
13
Flannery
11
Jones-Buchanan
12
Wilkin
13
Sinfield
2
1
11
Gilmour
19
Burgess
15
Hargreaves
16
Bailey
14
Roby
12
Lauiti'iti
23
Fa'asavalu
17
Kirke
17
Clough

Kick Off:
18:00
Half-Time:
08-08
Referee:
'Saint' Steve Ganson
Crowd:
63,259


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