Super League Grand Final, Wigan Warriors 20 Leeds Rhinos 22, Rhinos Wrap Up Treble Triumph Thanks To Josh Walters Winning Try

Teenage star Josh Walters scored a try he will never forget to make sure Leeds Rhinos departing stars Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai went out on the back of a thoroughly deserved outstanding treble triumph as this champion team wrote yet another chapter in the history of this great sport.

The proceedings began with the entry of the First Utility Super League trophy before superstar rock band The Charlatans were formerly introduced to the army of supporters who were amassing in Old Trafford for this eagerly anticipated Super League Grand Final which was the first time that Wigan and Leeds had contested it since they were the headline act at the first ever one in 1998.

Classical star Laura Wright then gave an uplifting performance of Jerusalem before the battle hardened Rhinos and Warriors entered the Theatre of Dreams to a cauldron of expectant noise for the formalities before the kick off.

Shaun Wane started Dominic Manfredi and John Bateman in his three-quarter line along with 19 year old Centre Oliver Gildart, his counterpart Brian McDermott also sprang a surprise with Brad Singleton being named in the starting line-up for the Rhinos and offload machine Adam Cuthbertson dropping to the bench where he sat with teenager Walters.

Brett Delaney also somehow made it into the 17 after departing Headingley on crutches after their semi-final win over St. Helens the previous week.

The men from Headingley started with more purpose but it was the Warriors drew first blood in the fourth minute as Liam Farrell caught Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield out of place and raced through before handing on to Sydney Roosters bound Joe Burgess for the winger to repeat his try scoring performance from 12 months ago, retiring Matty Bowen added the conversion to give them a six point lead.

Leeds responded immediately though after Matty Smith knocked on from the restart and after the resultant scrum a deft grubber by Sinfield was pounced on by Danny McGuire to score beside the posts, Sinfield’s inevitable conversion brought the Rhinos level in the seventh minute.

Wigan forced the Rhinos to drop out after Tom Briscoe was forced behind his own line and with the sustained pressure Michael McIlorum made a dive for the Leeds try line but he dropped the ball just short.

Tempers threatened to boil over as Brad Singleton was penalised for tackling Burgess in the air from a high kick close to the Warriors line.

The game settled into an arm wrestle in which the most noteworthy incident was a clash of heads between Sinfield and Cuthbertson requiring both Rhinos players to have running repairs with strapping going round their profusely bleeding heads.

A cross-field kick by Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Zak Hardaker then caused panic in the Warriors defence which ensued in the tackle count being wiped clean by referee Ben Thaler, in a frantic period of play Leeds flung the ball right to left and then back to the right and, despite a possible knock on in the build up by McGuire, the video referees awarded an eventual try to Joel Moon to a chorus of boos from the supporters in Cherry and White, uncharacteristically Sinfield missed the conversion to leave it a four point gap after 28 minutes.

The Warriors then marched to the Leeds end of the pitch and forced some sustained pressure on the Rhinos defensive line with a knock on by Ryan Hall giving them head and feed 10 meters from the Rhinos line but an organised defence from the men in Blue and Amber held them at bay.

Leeds then suddenly cut the Warriors apart with breathtaking speed and ingenuity as Wembley hero Briscoe engineered a break to put Kallum Watkins away down the right and the England Centre handed inside to put McGuire in for his 2nd try of the match, Sinfield’s conversion gave them a 10 point lead that they held for the last four minutes of the half.

Wigan had the first surge into enemy territory of the 2nd half but a pass from Bowen was knocked on by Farrell so the chance was squandered.

A knock on by McGuire then presented the Warriors with territory and possession and then a high shot by the retiring Kylie Leuluai gave the Warriors more possession and then a dangerous grubber was knocked dead by Sinfield forcing the Rhinos to have to drop out from under their posts for the second time in the game.

Sustained pressure from the Warriors on the Rhinos line eventually saw a high bomb from Sean O’ Loughlin stolen by Manfredi from the clutches of Hall for the Wigan man to dive over and put his side back in the contest, Bowen added the extra two points to bring them back within four points seven minutes into the half.

Within two minutes of that the Warriors were back in front for the first time since the 7th minute as Bowen cut his way through feeble Rhinos defence and raced in under the posts and then added the conversion to his try to make it 18-16 to the men from the DW Stadium.

Watkins gave away a soft penalty for a high shot on Farrell which led to more pressure on the Rhinos but this time Wigan managed to lose the ball over the Leeds try line in a frantic piece of play.

McIlorum then claimed a clever penalty as he threw a pass against Watkins in an offside position at the play-the-ball and with 19 minutes remaining Bowen duly obliged to stretch their lead to four points as the pendulum continued to swing their way.

Three minutes later this great sport wrote another great fairytale chapter as young Josh Walters, coming off the bench in his first ever play-off game, scrambled over after the Warriors made a hash of clearing up a high kick and two passes later the teenager was in, Sinfield restored the Rhinos lead with the conversion.

A pitch invader then caused a short stop a few minutes later before the game resumed with the Warriors in possession.

Enthusiasm then got the better of Manfredi as he raised Hall in a dangerous tackle and dumped the England winger on his shoulder.

Desperate defence by the Warriors then led to a scrum for Leeds 10 meters from the line and then more desperation from the Warriors held them at bay somehow.

McIlorum then scragged Burrow to the ground with a head high tackle giving the Rhinos another penalty which was duly dispatched into touch.

Leeds kept forcing the issue but a very well organised defence still kept them out but then just as Tony Clubb seemed to be creating a break in midfield he tried to pass but the ball went forward and hit the deck.

For all the times that commentators Eddie and particularly Stevo kept referring to the superstar names in the Rhinos line-up as the ones who could put this game beyond the Warriors they somehow kept contriving to blow guilt edged chance after chance but, importantly held on to their two point lead.

In a breathless finish the Warriors tried everything they could after gaining possession with a scrum 10 meters from their line but a frantic kick wide was eventually defused by Hall giving way to absolute unbridled joy as they completed the Super League Leaders Shield, Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and Grand Final treble and defeated the Warriors in a major final for the first time in their distinguished history.

Penalties: Wigan 4 Leeds 5

Goal Line Drop Outs: Wigan 0 Leeds 2

Harry Sunderland Trophy Man of the Match: Danny McGuire

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Wigan Warriors 30 Hull FC 24. Airlie Birds Youth Claim Moral Victory With Gutsy Performance

Injury ravaged Hull FC frightened the living daylights out of Grand Final contenders Wigan Warriors in a classic Super 8s match at the DW Stadium.

Hull coach Lee Radford trusted youth due to their unprecedented injury crisis with no fewer than six academy players as Zimbabwean born prop Masimbaashe Matongo made his debut from the bench and Jansin Turgut made his second appearance alongside Brad Fash, Jordan Abdull, Jack Logan and Jack Downs.

The game started with a very flat atmosphere as both sides started cautiously and defences were undoubtedly on top in the first few minutes.

Just as Wigan appeared to create their first opportunity with a fast move from right to left winger Joe Burgess put the ball down with open ground in front of him.

From the resulting scrum Hull then moved the ball to their left and Curtis Naughton made a dash only to be brought down into touch by a tackle that looked a touch high by Warriors full-back Ryan Hampshire.

The Warriors then went straight back to their left side with George Williams making a dart down the wing before handing inside for 19 year old centre Oliver Gildart to race in after 10 minutes, the conversion by Hampshire gave the home side a six point advantage.

Hull youngster Jack Logan then made a dangerous break from inside his own half and had the Warriors defence on the run until he tried a pass which was taken somewhat fortuitously by Burgess despite him seemingly knocking the ball on.

Wigan then forced a last tackle play with several passes but the covering Airlie Birds defence got back in numbers to halt the danger 10 meters from their own line as they refused to just lie down.

Wigan soon extended their advantaged as a fast move to the right side saw Anthony Gelling draw winger Naughton in before putting Josh Charnley over in the corner in the 22nd minute, the touchline conversion by Hampshire gave them a 12 point lead.

Unfortunately for the badly under strength black and whites the Warriors were finding yards rather easy to come by but Hull did keep making clean breaks which would have upset Warriors boss Shaun Wane.

Another break by Jordan Rankin after Matty Smith knocked on near the Hull line saw the Airlie Birds again press the Warriors defence until an unfortunate pass hit Rankin and ballooned over Tom Lineham into touch.

Wigan were then given a fortuitous scrum when a short kick was unluckily fumbled by Logan giving them a scrum 20 meters from the Hull line but a move to the right was snuffed out after a forward pass from Gelling to Charnley was pulled up by referee James Child.

Warriors forward Sam Powell was then very lucky to face no further action after clearly gouging Lineham’s eye which saw the winger taken off for further treatment.

Mark Minichiello was then harshly penalised for a ball steal in a 1-on-1 tackle giving the Warriors another penalty and eventually John Bateman crossed under the posts, the conversion from Hampshire made it 18-0 after 32 minutes.

Another Wigan attack threatened another try but then a dropped ball presented full-back Jamie Shaul with a chance to run and the Hull man raced 95 meters for his 8th try of the season, the touchline conversion from Marc Sneyd brought the black and white’s back into the game with four minutes to go to the break.

Two minutes later the Airlie Birds were in again as a fast move to the left side saw Logan dispense with one tackle from England scrum half Matty Smith and then  rounded two more defenders all too easily to score, the conversion from Sneyd reduced the deficit to six points with less than a minute to half time.

Hull started the second half in good mood and after their first set in the half Sneyd came within a whisker of a 40/20 but the ball just went into touch short of the 20 meter line much to the home sides relief.

The Warriors were afforded the first chance of the half as Minichiello made an uncharacteristic error as he dropped a pass inside his own 20 meter area but a well organised defence from Hull kept them at bay forcing Smith into a kick which was fielded by Naughton to force a goal line drop out.

A harsh penalty for interference against Matongo then gave the Warriors more possession and territory but a nothing attack was easily repelled by a vice-like Hull defnce as a Warriors player was forced into touch under a pack of defenders.

Another Warriors attack then saw another kick to the Hull left and this time Naughton managed to tap the ball back for Sneyd to take the ball and bring it away from the line again.

Another comical attack from the Warriors then saw a rare mistake from Shaul as he failed to take a grubber kick in, the loose ball was thrown inside to Powell but as he slid over the line he was foiled by Danny Houghton’s hand forcing the ball clear resulting in a 20 meter restart for Hull.

Hull then attacked again as they sensed another chance but Naughton was stopped less than 10 meters short and then a wide kick by Sneyd was knocked on.

Wigan then thought they had another try after Abdull spilled a kick and Bateman grabbed the loose ball to touchdown but the video referee disallowed the try after Flower was adjudged to have tackled the young stand-off without the ball.

Another Wigan attack then saw Josh Charnley held up over the line but then on the next play Flower forced his way over the whitewash, the conversion from Hampshire stretched the Warriors lead to an undeserved 12 points with 18 minutes left to play.

Hull then came again as Fash made a dash in broken play but was then penalised for pushing Hampshire off him trying to get a quick play the ball.

Wigan then attacked again and another kick was floated out to Charnley’s wing but again Naughton was equal to it to push the ball out to touch in goal.

Wigan were then awarded a penalty in front of the posts and, uncharacteristically they opted to take the two points and Hampshire duly obliged to make it 26-12 with 13 minutes left.

Hull then made a great break through Steve Prescott Man of Steel contender Liam Watts and with the Warriors defence at sixes and sevens a kick right by Sneyd was taken in by Rankin and the departing Australian dotted the ball down to score, the conversion by Sneyd brought them back within eight points.

Hull then cut the Wigan defence apart embarrassingly easily again and a deft kick by Houghton saw Logan race up outside Charnley, scoop the ball in, and leave the England winger floundering in his wake to race in unopposed, the conversion by Sneyd made it a two point ball game with eight minutes remaining.

Taulima Tautai was then sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Mickey Paea with less than seven minutes left to play.

Wigan then grabbed a totally undeserved win as Super League’s leading try-scorer Burgess rounded off a move down the left hand side with a palpable sense of relief to leave a final score of 30-24.

Penalties Wigan 5 Hull FC 3

Goal Line Drop Outs Wigan 0 Hull FC 2

Attendance 12,028

Man of the Match (Shared) Curtis Naughton and Jack Logan

Jack Logan

Hull FC 24 Salford Red Devils 20. Airlie Birds Claim Fourth Win in Five Games

Despite all the talk in the build up and a request from the visitors to postpone the game due to an unprecedented injury crisis it was the home side who started under strength with Jamie Shaul pulled out on the day of the game and naming two teenagers in Jordan Abdull and Bobby Tyson-Wilson in their 17. Jordan Rankin was recalled in place of Shaul.

Salford had the first attacking opportunity after being given a penalty in the Hull half for obstruction and Kevin Locke duly obliged with the first try in the 4th minute after claiming a cross-field kick to score, Theo Fages added the conversion to give the Red Devils a 0-6 lead.

Another penalty to Salford for offside led to another attack and then given a 3rd penalty in the opening eight minutes Fages obliged to give the visitors a 0-8 lead.

It took until the 19th minute for Hull to get their first penalty which soon led to a 2nd penalty and some pressure on the Salford line which ultimately proved fruitless for the home side.

Hull’s attack was again looking almost non existent in the first half with chances being frittered away because of a lack of structure and cutting edge.

Hull finally opened up the visitors defence with a chip over the top by Marc Sneyd and Tom Lineham dived in at the corner but the try was very harshly ruled out by the touch judge who said he managed to get a foot in touch despite being off the ground, however the winger made up for it a minute later when he raced in at the corner on 31 minutes before being sin binned for talking back to the officials as he celebrated the try, a goal by Sneyd brought the hosts back to within two points.

As the first half wore on Salford’s intensity seemed to be waning and the Airlie Birds increased theirs but it was the visitors who went into the break with a two point lead.

A harsh penalty to Salford set up the first attack for the visitors 3 minutes into the 2nd half and led to a soft try for James Greenwood, the conversion from Fages saw the visitors leading 6-14.

Back to back penalties for Hull then led to pressure on the visitors line and Fetuli Talanoa crashed over in the 51st minute, the resultant conversion from Sneyd again brought the black and white’s back within two points.

After 58 minutes the Red Devils were in again as a grubber kick by Fages was followed up and touched down by Oliver Gildart the conversion by Fages stretched their lead to 12-20.

Hull’s attack seemed to be carrying on in the same vein in the 2nd half with a genuine lack of aggression and snap and as a result the Red Devils were being afforded time and space with ball in hand.

After 64 minutes however a rare structured attack from Hull led to a try from Mark Minichiello the conversion from Sneyd brought the score back to 18-20.

With 9 minutes to go Jordan Rankin was held up over the line but the disappointment only lasted a few seconds as Setaimata Sa bashed his way through the Salford defensive line to score under the posts and give the home side the lead for the first time in the game, the goal from Sneyd stretched the score to 24-20.

Despite a frantic last 5 or 6 minutes Hull held on for their fourth win in five games to slightly ease the pressure on coach Lee Radford and put themselves back within striking distance of the much coveted top 8 in Super League.

A collective sigh of relief was almost tangible in the KC Stadium at the end of what was not a great game but one in which Hull at least did what they needed to and proved they can see a game out.

Attendance 9,385

Man of the Match Jordan Rankin

Penalties Hull FC 13 Salford Red Devils 7

Goal Line Drop Out Hull FC 1 Salford Red Devils 3