Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Super League Grand Final Thoughts

After beginning the 2015 season on a cold Thursday night in Widnes, the most exciting season for a  long time came to an end on Saturday night at Old Trafford as Leeds and Wigan faced off in the Super League Grand Final.

The meeting was the first between the two sides at the 'Theatre of Dreams' since the 1996 Premiership final which the Warriors won and ahead of this weekend's event the Rhinos had yet to defeat their opponents in any final. Both sides named strong 17's with the Rhinos hoping to give a farewell to the departing trio of Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai. Wigan also had upcoming departures as Matt Bowen and Joe Burgess looked to complete superb final seasons while Larne Patrick hoped to end his loan spell on a high before a return to Huddersfield.

A full house at Old Trafford of 73,512 anticipated a classic final and they got just that as the sides shared a total of 42 points across the 80 minutes. Wigan began the scoring as a superb run from Liam Farrell allowed him to put Joe Burgess in the clear for the first try inside five minutes which Matt Bowen converted for a 6-0 lead. However, Leeds fought back within three minutes as Danny McGuire touched down but the decision was delayed due to a video review before being awarded and Kevin Sinfield levelled with the conversion at 6-6.

Leeds went ahead on 27 minutes as Joel Moon found space and crossed to open up a 10-6 lead which remained after Sinfield missed the conversion attempt but he was on target just before the interval as he converted a second try from McGuire on 37 minutes to send the Rhinos 16-6 in front at the break.

Wigan needed to score first in the second half to avoid a mountainous task and they took just seven minutes as Dom Manfredi rose superbly to collect a kick ahead of Ryan Hall and touch down for 16-10 with Bowen converting for 16-12. The Wigan fullback went in for a try himself just two minutes later and converted to put the Warriors narrowly ahead at 18-16 with a penalty goal on 62 minutes extending the advantage to four at 20-16.

The lead was a short one in time as well as points as went back in front after a try from Josh Walters who took advantage of a high kick to touch down for 20-20 with Sinfield converting successfully for 22-20 which despite a lot of pushing from Wigan to try and overturn the lead was how it ended. The result confirmed a treble of trophies for the Rhinos as they became the first to achieve such a feat  since St Helens in 2006 and in doing so ensured Wigan fell to back-to-back Grand Final defeats.