Leeds retain Super League title against Warrington

Warrington 18 Leeds 26

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield produced a valiant display of courage and commitment to lead his side to a famous victory over Warrington as the Rhinos once more defied the odds to retain their Super League crown.

The veteran stand-off scored a try and kicked five goals from as many attempts, but it was his bravery in defying two crushing injury blows that did more than anything to inspire his side in front of a crowd of 70,676 at Old Trafford.

It also earned him the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match as Leeds made a mockery of the final league placings for the second successive year by winning the title from fifth.

The victory enabled Rhinos to became Super League's most successful club, with six championships since the competition began in 1996, while former England captain Jamie Peacock celebrated his eighth victory on his record-breaking 10th appearance.

However, most of the plaudits will go to Sinfield, who looked to be playing on auto pilot for most of his 78th consecutive Leeds appearance after twice being flattened in crunching collisions but got up each time to inspire his team in trademark fashion.

Sinfield has now led his side to all six Grand Final wins in just nine glorious years to confirm his status as the greatest captain in Leeds' history and increase his side's love affair with Manchester.

The Rhinos have faltered on the last Saturday of August in each of the last three years to see Challenge Cup glory slip from their grasp, yet they discover a spring in their step when autumn arrives.

Yet again they built momentum throughout the play-offs and demonstrated that, once they gain a sniff of the finishing line, they prove peerless.

It proved too much for Warrington, who were hot favourites to end a 57-year wait to be crowned champion on their maiden Old Trafford appearance.

This time the rain stayed away and a fast track made for an open contest, with Leeds demonstrating they are not just a wet-weather team.

Despite their local knowledge, however, Leeds took some time to settle and they went behind after only three minutes when Warrington half-back Richie Myler, their most impressive player, nipped between forwards Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Peacock to score a try from his side's first meaningful attack.

Brett Hodgson kicked the first of his three goals to put the Wolves 6-0 up and Leeds' hearts sank further when the talismanic Sinfield crumbled in a heap following a tackle by Ben Westwood and Micky Higham.

But the Rhinos captain got to his feet and sparked a purple passage of play that saw his side seize control.

His cut-out pass got left winger Ryan Hall over on 11 minutes only for referee Richard Silverwood to rule it forward, but the Yorkshiremen drew level seven minutes later.

Warrington winger Joel Monaghan could only palm the ball from Sinfield's high kick into the grateful hands of Leeds centre Carl Ablett and Sinfield was on his shoulder to take the final pass and register his first Grand Final try.

The lightning bursts of Rob Burrow had the Wolves constantly back-pedalling and the Rhinos duly went in front on 25 minutes with a Sinfield penalty.

It got even better for Leeds when Danny McGuire's long pass found right winger Ben Jones-Bishop, who bumped off his opposite number Chris Riley and stepped inside full-back Hodgson to touch down.

Sinfield kicked his second conversion to extend his side's lead to 14-6 but a crucial knock-on by Ablett gave Warrington the perfect attacking position and they took advantage to score their second try, stand-off Lee Briers' long pass getting right winger Joel Monaghan over.

Hodgson kicked his second conversion and levelled the scores on the stroke of half-time with a penalty, and they looked the more likely victors after Sinfield took another fearful blow early in the second half following a clash of heads with Michael Monaghan.

Once again Sinfield rose to his feet but only in time to see Hodgson feed the ball from dummy half to Leeds-born centre Ryan Atkins, who crashed over for his side's third try.

However, the Wolves were forced to defend for most of the third quarter. A string of penalties enabled the Rhinos to lay siege to their opponents line and the pressure paid off on 58 minutes when the impressive Ablett took Shaun Lunt's short pass to crash over for his side's third try.

Sinfield maintained his accuracy with his fourth goal to edge his side into a two-point lead, and Leeds made sure of the win when Ablett worked Hall over for a fourth try nine minutes from the end.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor