Leeds 11 St Helens 10: Danny McGuire’s kick edges thriller

 

Headingley

The habitual Super League champions of Leeds clung onto their crown, but only thanks to a late Danny McGuire drop goal at the end of an epic. Saints had fought back from 10 points down, only for the Rhinos to do what they do so well at this time of year.

They will now play Warrington or Wigan, with Old Trafford the prize for the victor.

St Helens might be Leeds’ victims of choice in Grand Finals, but they arrived at Headingley having won their last three games there. They also had the momentum – so often a Rhinos’ prerogative – that comes from making their charge from nowhere.

Both sides were as strong as they could be, arguably the strongest they have been all season, and Old Trafford beckoned – but only for one of them. As Leeds’ Carl Ablett said succinctly in the build-up: “It’s do or die.” He was one who showed that he had no intention of letting the Rhinos’ season expire prematurely.

The game as a whole, and the credibility of the play-off system in particular, needed a close contest after Huddersfield’s humiliation of Hull on Thursday – and that is what they got.

All the early pressure came from Leeds, with Saints having to scramble desperately to negate the threat of their wide players. Completely against the run of play, Saints almost took the lead when Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was held up over the line.

More characteristic of the action was the way Leeds eventually took the lead after 31 minutes, Kallum Watkins taking Zak Hardaker’s pass and twisting his way over like a natural finisher.  Kevin Sinfield surprisingly missed the conversion and McGuire was close to a second Leeds try, but that, for all their dominance, was it for the first half.

The game began to open up four minutes into the second half, when the limping McGuire put through a perfect kick for Joel Moon to touch down.

A couple of mistakes and a penalty let Saints back into it, scoring from Wilkin’s short pass to Willie Manu. Then Lance Hohaia stole the ball from Watkins to put Leeds under the cosh.

The game was now in the balance, and that was where it stayed until Watkins was penalised for a high tackle on Paul Wellens, Saints marched upfield and Jon Wilkin’s superb pass gave Manu an equalising second.

Jordan Turner missed the kick, but Sinfield put the restart straight out and Wilkin failed with a drop goal.

“To come out on top in such an epic game makes me a very proud man,” said Leeds’ coach Brian McDermott, who admitted that McGuire was one of several walking wounded, long before he landed what was only the fourth drop-goal of his career.

Leeds: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Watkins,  Moon, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Delaney.  Substitutes used: Bailey, Achurch, Kirke, Sutcliffe.

St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Turner, Meli, Swift; Wilkin, Hohaia; Puletua, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Jones.  Substitutes used: Wellens, Laffranchi, Clough, Walmsley. 

Referee: P Bentham (Warrington)

News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Robbie Savage will not face a driving ban
football'Mr Marmite' faced the possibility of a 28-day ban
Voices
voices
Life and Style
Nearly half of all young people in middle and high income countries were putting themselves at risk of tinnitus and, in extreme cases, irreversible hearing loss
health
News
It was only when he left his post Tony Blair's director of communications that Alastair Campbell has published books
people The most notorious spin doctor in UK politics has reinvented himself
Life and Style
The new model would be a “pedal assist” bike in which the rider’s strength is augmented by the engine on hills and when they want to go fast
tech
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in ‘I Am Michael’
filmJustin Kelly's latest film tells the story of a man who 'healed' his homosexuality and turned to God
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower