Rugby League: McGuire's magic leaves Leeds on top of the world

Leeds Rhinos 39 Canterbury Bulldogs 32

LEEDS EARNED the right to call themselves the best club side in the world at Elland Road last night, just managing to hang on to the lead they had earned with a fluent first-half display.

More than 37,000 - a record for the World Club Challenge in this country - saw the Rhinos build a 20-point advantage with a dazzling attacking effort spearheaded by Danny McGuire.

But four tries in 15 minutes from the resurgent Bulldogs put them under huge pressure after the break and it was not until Kevin Sinfield slotted a drop goal with three minutes left that Leeds made sure of the prize.

"I'm normally pretty calm but it was a bit nerve-wracking at the end," admitted the Leeds coach, Tony Smith. "The message had been sent out that if we had the opportunity [for the single point] we would take it," he said. "It was getting down to the other end that was the problem." The Canterbury coach, Steve Folkes, praised his side's resilience. "Even behind by 20 at half-time we still thought we were in it," he said.

The Rhinos got away with an early blunder when Chev Walker helped Braith Anasta's kick-off into touch, but the Bulldogs lost possession when Reni Maitua knocked on. The Rhinos made the most of that escape with their first attack, winning a penalty when Tony Grimaldi held down Ryan Bayley. McGuire ran at the defence to provide a perfect pass for Walker, who stepped inside Luke Patten to score. Four minutes later, Patten was exposed again, this time by Kevin Sinfield's kick, which he could only deflect into the path of Mark Calderwood for a second Leeds try, again converted by Sinfield.

There was a warning from Canterbury in the shape of a fine fluent attack through countless pairs of hands, but the formidable Sonny Bill Williams was stopped just short of the line.

The skills of Williams earned Canterbury a penalty on the last tackle of a set and it paid off when Hazem El Masri forced the ball down despite Andrew Dunemann's efforts. El Masri converted in the manner expected of one of the world's best kickers.

The Rhinos' lead was stretched again by a quite marvellous try from McGuire who should have started the Tri-Nations final at Elland Road in November, but who was making up for lost time here last night. Barrie McDermott began the attack with a clever off-load and McGuire accelerated away, dummied to Marcus Bai and arced around to score in the corner. The feeling that this was Leeds' night intensified just after the half-hour when the little-seen kicking ability of Calderwood conjured up a try for Willie Poching as the ball bounced back perfectly into his arms.

There was no arguing with the quality of the next Leeds try, the ball flying from hand to hand until Rob Burrow made the decisive, darting run to plant it down and underline their first-half superiority.

The Bulldogs have overcome worse things than a 20-point half-time deficit, however, and they hit back six minutes into the second half through Patten's try.

Any Leeds nerves should have been settled when Richard Mathers scored from McGuire's perfect kick and Jamie Jones-Buchanan pounced on El Masri's mistake to make it a 26-point lead. But two tries from Jamaal Lolesi and one each from El Masri and Grimaldi made it a nail-biting finish, with the cool head of Sinfield the deciding factor as time ran out.

Leeds: Mathers, Calderwood, Walker, Senior, Bai, Sinfield, McGuire, Bailey, Dunemann, Ward, Jones-Buchanan, McKenna, Ellis. Substitutes: Burrow, Lauitiiti, McDermott, Poching.

Canterbury: Patten, El Masri, Lolesi, Tonga, Cutler, Anasta, Hughes, Armit, Perry, Asotasi, Maitua, Williams, Grimaldi. Substitutes: Oliver, Czislowski, Myles, Brideson.

Referee: S Hampstead (Australia).

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
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?