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rhinoms Superleague XVI Previews - The Grand Final
Posted by southstander on October 06 2011 - 08:46:25

by rhinoms

This is the one we've all been waiting for.

If you'd asked a thousand people at the end of the regular season who would be in the Grand Final I'd like to wager that no-one would, hand on heart, predicted a Rhinos v. Saints contest.

Which side will our pundits come down on?

Read more here....

Well, after 27 rounds of SL we have reached the final destination. Here are my thoughts on this weekends big game.

RHINOS v. SAINTS

Many theme parks across the globe stake claims about their roller-coaters and white knuckle rides and many have won huge awards and cost a fortune to visit. However, I personally have never been on a white-knuckle ride that could match the season the Rhinos have just gone through.

After starting the season missing two of the best players in SL let alone the squad, two props released mid-season plus the injuries that just kept mounting. We had a new chief who was told late on that he was the man, after Bluey decided to return home, and that bombshell was followed by what's best described on reflection as a strange sequence of events.

Most fans believed we still had quality within the team despite many questioning the age and hunger of the squad. We went from the good (Hull away) to the Bad (Quins at Home) and then came the ugly (HKR away).

Fans were confused and vented their anger on the team and new coach and that trend would continue with coach taking the brunt of the Ire after we were destroyed home and away by three of the top four.

The Club started to turn it around during the Challenge Cup and the signs were we had got our "beloved Rhinos" back.

Unfortunately we had a pre-Wembley blip against Quins and despite a very good effort (first 15 mins aside) during the CC final many fans thought (yours truly included) Brian Mc was in a job too big for him.

The CC final seemed to galvanize a squad that had grown sick of getting written off by anyone and everyone with an opinion.

Post Wembley we had a steely resolve, a hunger and it seemed as though the "penny had dropped". We destroyed Wakey by 60 but some had made their minds up and booed the coach (not this pundit) at the end of season speeches and fairwell to Ali and Senior.

The team were not happy about that and the public backing Brian Mc was getting, became more vocal from within the camp and we went to the Giants on the final day of the season and won in front of a tremendous away following and we started to get belief.

We secured 5th and would have to do it the hard way and the way that had NEVER been achieved.

First up Hull, at home, and that went according to script with TMFMISL doing his usual number on the Windy Hull pack, sterner tests were to come. We now had two away trips to get through to reach OT again, and we started by beating the "Pretenders" at the Galpharm for a second time in two weeks, and although the final score suggests otherwise we destroyed them, and they knew it.

Then came the contentious "Club Call" and Wire made the mistake of picking us.

What a night at the HJ even during the journey over the nightmare M62 confidence was high, we were there to make up the numbers, Wire had destroyed everyone and broke every record for tries scored, best defence etc etc. But somehow those of us that traveled and more importantly those 17 in Pink and Blue, lead superbly by Brian Mc, knew we would do it after all BEWARE THE WOUNDED RHINO.

What a game of RL. End to end and despite "look at me I'm on tv" Gansons best efforts both teams gave everything and eventually it came down to one kick and of course one man.

Step forward the Greatest Captain the club has ever had , the shining light in any dark day and of course the "Ice Man" Sir Kevin Sinfield and that was that we'd done what NO-one thought we would do get to OT from 5th. The very next night ST's did exactly the same to the Pies and it was "As you Were" for the GF.

This week the game really is 50-50. St's have more than matched our adversity and have blooded some real quality young-guns again just as we have. They still have the steely and Rattle throwing FGB ,"Benjamin Button" Wellens and "The Machine" Roby add to that the guile and unfazed manor of Gaskell and Lomax and we have a serious challenge.

Of course we and they know the script. We play each other in a GF and we win. That's how it goes, but it really could go either way and lets not forget we've had two good hidings off them this year. But saying that, we hadn't beaten the Giants or Wire this year till we decided we wanted to make the GF.

A brilliant game in prospect with thrills and spills, skill, power and pace and lets hope we are discussing the RL and not the Ref at full time. I'm obviously gonna go with the Blue 'n' Amber to win and that would cap off a remarkable season.

Finally I'm gonna AGAIN issue my apologies to Brian Mc.

I must admit that once the injuries settled down and we had what I'd call a decent team available, I didn't think you were the man for the job. I thought we had a much better team/squad than they were producing (as recent performances have shown) so for me the coach hadn't got the team playing to their capabilities.

Well done on turning it around Brian and when you directed your applause away at Huddersfield towards the players it was a huge moment for me. You've shown huge resolve and dignity trusted the young lads and got the players firing of course being an ex RN man and knowing full well what makes a Royal Marine that resolve and steel should never be questioned.

Well done Brian and long may this "upturn" continue.

Rhinos by 5.

rhinoms tipsRhinos by 5
SouthStander.com tipsSaints by 4
AverageRhinos by 1

If you are traveling have a safe journey and enjoy the game.

It's been a long and at times testing season for the Rhinos faithful but once again thanks again (and visitors) to those of you who took time out to read these articles I've enjoyed posting them so many thanks.

Mark Stephenson

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