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Simply Fantastic!
Posted by southstander on October 05 2007 - 22:54:00

Super Skipper

'If you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs....'. We all know the much over used Kipling quotation, but tonight it seems particularly relevant. While most Rhinos fans went to Headingley tonight full of hope for the win, many secretly expected the Wigan bandwagon to roll over another victim.

The pressure was massive, the expectations high, and the atmosphere electric. But seventeen men held their nerve and kept their heads. What we witnessed was simply fantastic, very close to faultless.

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

36

Rhinos

v

Warriors

06

Superleague XII

Final Eliminator

5th October 2007

Simply Fantastic!

First of all, massive congratulations to the U18's who did a great job of defeating the all-conquering Saints in the Junior Academy Grand Final. They've set the standard for the senior academy and the first team to emulate.

But that was the appetiser for the main business of the day, the second Grand Final Eliminator - the ultimate knockout game between the Rhinos and the Warriors. For one set of players the showpiece game of the season awaited, for the the other seventeen an exit at the last hurdle and another wasted season. Masses travelled from Wigan filling the western terrace and the Leeds public also turned out in volume. The stage was set for a nail-biting belter.

Tony Smith stuck with the same starting thirteen from the last two weeks, numbered one to thirteen. The only change was Bailey in on the bench for Tansey as the coach looked to strengthen his pack and take it to Wigan up the middle. Brian Noble brought a great record to HQ but was without Mark Calderwood, and with a side that looked a shadow of that from the last decade. They were, however, the form team with the scalps of Saints, Bradford and Hull FC tucked neatly under their belts from the last three games.

Early exchanges saw the Rhinos with a slight advantage, but both sides had chances to score in the opening ten minutes neither crossing the whitewash. The hits were hard, and it looked like defences may dominate a low scoring encounter.

Leeds were first to get on the board when the skipper slotted over a two-pointer after Ganson caught Wigan not-square at the play-the-ball. Four minutes later and we went over for the opening try. Peacock stepped out of two tackles, before finding Brent Webb in support who went fifty metres to score under the sticks to chants of 'Brent Webb is Superman'. Sinfield added the extras and we were eight-nil ahead. It was all going t plan.

On twenty-one, Sinfield added another couple after Diskin was tackled high close to the Wigan line and on twenty-six the Rhinos scored another try.

Leeds were close to the Wigan line and pushing for an opening before Lauiti'iti got the ball five metres out and carried three tacklers with him before crashing over the line. Sinfield slotted the extras and we had an impressive 16-0 lead.

Wigan went close before half-time but good Rhinos defence managed to keep them scoreless to the half-time hooter.


Brace

It had been a good first half from Leeds, and Wigan looked as though their recent efforts may have taken two much out of them. But the Cherry and Whites are the second-half kings and it was most certainly not over yet.

Leeds looked to have got off the a tremendous start to the second half. With just two minutes on the clock Wigan offloaded in the tackle, McGuire hacked the loose ball forward, collected and dived over the line to score. The video referee took an age before ruling 'No TRY', possibly ecause Danny was deemed to not have full control as he crossed the whitewash. Back to the nail-biting.

On fifty-five the nerves really kicked in when Wigan opened their account. A delightful kick through from Leuleui was collected by Barett and passed back inside to Richards to score under the sticks. He added the two and at 16-6 my nerves were getting shredded. We needed more points, a ten point deficit could be overhauled in a few minutes.


Awesome
With fifteen minutes left in the game the result was still in the balance. But then the skipper came to the rescue with a great break down the left, a pass inside to JJB who in turn found Rob Burrow who motored under the sticks from forty metres. Sinfield made it five from five and 22-6 to the Rhinos.

I started to breath a little more easily.

A minute later and Sinfield set up another, this time with a beautiful little grubber slid behind the Wigan defence which Webb managed to get an elbow to. Kev added the extras for 28-6 and with just fifteen minutes left the Rhinos fans started to raise the volume and celebrate the passage to Old Trafford.

On seventy-one Sinfield kicked a perfect drop-goal from in-front of the sticks, rubbing salt into a now gaping Wigan wound. This must have riled the Warriors who then decided that if they couldn't go to Old Trafford then they would try and ruin it for a few Rhinos.

Diskin was the victim of a shocker from Hock who spun him, after he had offloaded, and dropped him on his head. The touch judge saw it and came on with his flag raised but the cowardly Ganson simply put it on report - this rule is the biggest travesty in the game and fails to deliver any justice to the player offended against. Fortunately Diskin picked himself up and dusted himself off and seemed to show no ill effects. Hock should get at least four games ban when he visits Red Hall next week.

Leeds refused to get drawn in to Wigans thuggish tactics.

On seventy-four Burrow scored a superb solo try on the angle from thirty metres which Sinfield converted, of course, making it seven from seven for the skipper. The icing on the cake was another Sinfield drop goal on seventy-seven to give the Rhinos a convincing 36-6 win and see us cruise into the Grand Final for another crack at Saints.

This was an exemplary performance from the Rhinos and I can't remember a single handling error that cost us the ball. We did give away several penalties but except from one high Peacock tackle they were all for offside. This was tremendous Rhinos discipline and something which we ned to reproduce next week on the biggest stage.

All seventeen Rhinos performed well, but special mention for the skipper, Jamie Peacock, Brent Webb and Rob Burrow, all of whom probably put in their best performances of the season.

All credit to the large number of Wigan fans who came over, most of whom stayed to the bitter end. But ultimately your team played the price for their cheating in 2006 and the rugby world will have breathed a sigh of relief that this seasons cheats have been proved not to prosper. Goodbye Mr Whelan, goodbye Mr Lindsay, nice for you to both be sent packing with a defeat. Your one-man team ran out of steam.

Onwards now to Old Trafford and a chance to make it three from four this season against the Saints on the biggest stage. I can't wait!


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


Match Facts

Rhinos
Warriors
No.
Player
T
G
DG
No.
Player
T
G
DG
1
Webb
2
5
Richards
1
1
2
Donald
23
Colbon
3
Toopi
3
Bailey
4
Senior
20
Goulding
5
Smith
14
Vaealiki
6
McGuire
6
Barrett
7
Burrow
2
7
Leuleui
8
Leuleui
8
Fielden
9
Diskin
16
Millard
10
Peacock
10
Paleaasina
11
Jones-Buchanan
11
Hock
12
Ellis
12
Fletcher
13
Sinfield
7
2
13
O'Loughlin
16
Bailey
18
Prescott
14
Lauiti'iti
1
9
Higham
22
Ablett
19
Hansen
18
Kirke
21
Hill

Kick Off:
20:00
Half-Time:
16-00
Referee:
Steve Ganson
Crowd:
16,112


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