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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Hull FC 24 Catalans Dragons 28, Controversial Performance By Referee Leaves Airlie Birds With Bitter Losing Feeling At Season’s End

A truly shambolic display by referee Richard Silverwood cost Hull FC a victory in their final game of their 150th anniversary season despite a memorable last performance by Tom Lineham and Mickey Paea before they head off to pastures new.

This most special of days for this most special of clubs began with many heritage events including a memorial service, singers outside the KC Stadium, a tribute inside the stadium to supporters and players of this great club who have passed away since the end of the 2014 season and club captain Gareth Ellis, club legend Johnny Whiteley MBE and their oldest and youngest season pass members bringing the match ball on to the tune of We Could Be Heroes Just For One Day.

Lee Radford restored Jordan Thompson, Richard Whiting and departing winger Tom Lineham to his line-up with Jack Downs, Leon Pryce and Dean Hadley making way from the team that played against Huddersfield Giants.

Jack Logan was returned to his more customary Centre position having deputised on the wing in the absence of Lineham last week while Jordan Abdull switched back to Stand-Off having played at Loose Forward against the Giants, fellow academy graduates Jansin Turgut and Brad Fash retained their places on the bench.

The first chance soon came the way of the black and white’s as Mark Minichiello and then Liam Watts made barnstorming runs and offloaded Harlem Globetrotter style before Abdull made a break from his own 20 meter line into Catalans territory, but the attack was brought to an end as a delicate grubber was shepherded over the dead ball line.

The Dragons however drew first blood in the 5th minute as a concerted effort in attack on the Hull line saw Jordan Sigismeau scramble over somewhat fortuitously in the left corner, the lead went unimproved as Scott Dureau pushed his touchline conversion across the face of the uprights.

Straight from the kick off the Dragons coughed up possession with a knock on giving the Airlie Birds head and feed 15 meters from the Dragons line, back-to-back penalties increased the pressure on the Dragons defence but then a knock on by Marc Sneyd handed them possession back with a scrum.

The Dragons next push into the Hull half forced a goal line drop out as Curtis Naughton had to run a dangerous grubber kick dead, however that chance came to nothing for the visitors as they surrendered possession in broken field.

Hull then surrendered the ball as a move from right to left saw the ball thrown into touch with Naughton unable to get anywhere near the pass giving the Dragons easy possession in Hull’s half as the Dragons threatened the line though Sigismeau was pounced on by Lineham and the Warrington-bound winger was able to steal the ball one-on-one.

Hull were granted another opportunity with a penalty for offside which Abdull planted into touch 40 meters from the Dragons line, another penalty then gave Hull more territory and possession but a clever little grubber by Sneyd wasn’t read by any of his team-mates and Catalans full-back Morgan Escare was able to clear it up in front of their posts.

Catalans then tried one of their party tricks on the first tackle after receiving head and feed on Hull’s 20 meter line but somehow Krisnan Inu and Tony Gigot contrived to hand the ball to Naughton 5 meters from the Hull line.

The Dragons next attack saw another grubber being chased by Inu but Naughton again beat him to the ball to push it dead for another goal line drop out, back-to-back penalties for the Dragons then saw the home defensive line stretched to its limits and eventually Sydney Roosters bound Ian Henderson scrambled over in the 24th minute to stretch their lead, the conversion by Dureau took them into double figures.

A penalty for a high tackle then gave the Dragons more territory and Inu finally got his try as he managed to reach out through three defenders to ground the ball in the 27th minute, Dureau’s conversion attempt from the touchline again went across the face of goal but Catalans had a worrying looking 14 point lead.

Another penalty for the french side again saw them building pressure on the home sides line and after two errors by either side Canberra Raiders recruit Elliott Whitehead was able to cross in controversial circumstances in the 31st minute as the match was seemingly slipping away from Hull, the conversion from Dureau made it a 20 point lead for the visitors.

A knock on at the play the ball by Catalans then gave Hull head and feed on their 20 meter line and another chance to build some pressure and eventually the pressure told as a flowing move from left to right saw Lineham easily cross in the right corner with space to spare in the 34th minute, the touchline conversion from Sneyd however was just wide but at least the Airlie Birds had shown some intent at last.

A stupid attempt at a miracle offload by Hull gave the Dragons another scrum 30 meters from the home sides line but a comedy of errors between Whitehead and Escare handed possession back to Hull as Naughton grabbed the loose ball with Escare flat on his back.

As a result of that the black and white’s swept up-field and Abdull was able to bash his way through some frantic defending to register Hull’s second try, Sneyd however was again just off target with the touchline conversion attempt but with two tries in four minutes you could visibly see confidence and enthusiasm flowing back into the home side.

Another attack by the black and white’s almost brought more reward as Naughton made a dash down the left hand side but a suspicious tackle by Whitehead stopped him 15 meters out and, though Hull showed some desperation to keep the attack going they ran out of time as the half time break arrived with them within 10 meters of the Dragons posts.

During the break Hull FC legend John ‘Jack’ Harrison VC and MC was remembered with a resounding rendition of Old Faithful and a parade by current and ex military, former players and youth players on a day when, fittingly, the visitors were from France, honouring his still held club record of 52 tries in a season (1914-1915) and his outstanding bravery when fighting in France in World War 1 for which he received his Military Cross and posthumous Victoria Cross.

The first chance of the second half came to Hull when Richard Silverwood awarded them a penalty in Catalans territory, unfortunately the chance was wasted as Jack Logan was forced into touch five meters from the Dragons try line.

The Dragons were then piggy backed up the field as they were given a penalty for a ball-steal.

Hull’s next attack came when Logan made a break in midfield but just as it looked like the Dragons were running out of numbers in defence Danny Houghton tripped and sprawled on the floor as he took the pass from the young Centre.

Hull attacked again and a dangerous kick from Sneyd saw Hull regain the ball and given another six tackles and eventually the pressure on the visitors was too much to bare as Naughton got the try his performance had deserved in the left corner with less than 10 minutes of the half gone, Sneyd however was having a bad day with the boot and his latest touchline conversion again drifted wide leaving Hull eight points behind.

Three minutes later a move as fast as a powerboat across the Humber saw Lineham set free down the right and the powerful winger swatted off two defenders to race in at the corner, Jordan Rankin attempted the latest touchline conversion but again it drifted just wide.

Benjamin Garcia then appeared to have a touch of the Ben Pomeroy’s about him as he scragged Logan and thumped him to the ground causing the young Centre to need treatment on the ground as Hull’s enthusiasm threatened to strangle the visitors after their early dominance.

Hull then gifted Catalans six points when Jordan Abdull tried to kick deep but it was blocked by two defenders and Rankin claimed the loose ball but then dropped it in the tackle presenting the ball to Thomas Bosc with nobody near to stop him going under the posts, the conversion from Dureau made it a 10 point lead again for the Dragons with 22 minutes remaining.

Rankin then repeated the dose as he ran the ball back after the next kick by Catalans this time handing them a scrum 20 meters out, a penalty then increased the pressure and Whitehead was held up over the line and then a grubber kick was grounded over the line by Kirk Yeaman causing Hull to have to drop out from under their posts for a third time in the game.

After yet another penalty the Dragons continued to pursue another score but with their defence back to its miserly best the Airlie Birds held them out this time.

A flowing Catalans move saw them move far too easily from one end of the field to the other but with the line gaping and a match winning score beckoning they somehow contrived to blow the chance as Bosc knocked on in front of the line when it would have been easier to score.

Hull then went to the other end and pushed the issue but Lineham just put his foot in touch before he dived in at the corner.

Catalans then definitely got the rub of the green as Silverwood failed to see a forward pass that would have made Michael Dobson at magic in 2012 proud and then harshly were given a penalty on halfway.

The referee then went about his main business of the day awarding the Dragons yet another penalty 20 meters out and Dureau obliged to give them a 12 point lead with eight minutes remaining.

Two minutes later and Lineham had his hat-trick to say goodbye with as another fast move saw him finish spectacularly in the corner, another miss from Rankin on the touchline again left an eight point gap so Hull still needed two scores.

Lineham was then denied a fourth try as the ball was adjudged to have gone forward off Jack Logan from a high kick by Sneyd.

Hull were then controversially denied another score by Silverwood as he continued to gift wrap the win for the Dragons as Logan put Houghton through with a deft short pass and the hooker raced in only to have the try disallowed incredibly for a forward pass which was definitely not forward in any way, shape or form.

Lineham then got his fourth try after two more penalties and a fast move left to right again saw the winger dive in spectacularly in the corner, this time Sneyd took a token drop-kick at goal after the final hooter.

So yet another frustrating season draws to a close for the Airlie birds and their superb band of supporters and the club will now take stock and move on to 2016 when Frank Pritchard, Sika Manu, Scott Taylor, Danny Washbrook, Carlos Tuimavave and Mahe Fonua will join the ranks of the black and white’s.

Catalans coach Laurent Fraysinnous said it was a big deal for his team to have won at the KC Stadium for the first time since 2007 and it will help them to look forward to 2016 despite another frustrating season when many had expected them to challenge for the top 4 with signings such as Willie Tonga, Todd Carney and the returning Remi Casty.

Hull coach Lee Radford, summing up his sides season, said they had been gallant in defeat and there had been no issues with their effort and commitment to the cause, he also went on to say that the creation of the under 23’s side and the merged ‘Super Academy’ with Hull KR’s youth squads are a definite positive moving forward.

Attendance 10,832

Man of the Match: Tom Lineham

Penalties: Hull FC 11 Catalans Dragons 11

Goal Line Drop Outs: Hull FC 3 Catalans Dragons 0

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