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Leeds Rhinos 26 Warrington Wolves 18
THERE won't be many people in Leeds who profess to liking anything to do with Old Trafford, but it must be an away ground of choice for the men from Headingley.
Comprehensively beaten by Warrington in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, Leeds Rhinos gained revenge in tonight's compelling Super League Grand Final at the home of Manchester United.
The 26-18 success means Leeds have now won six times in eight title deciders at this venue, with tonight's triumph remarkably being their fifth in six seasons.
Yet again they did it despite being underdogs - for the second time in two years coming from as low as fifth in the table to win the play-off series.
They twice came from behind on the night, too, Warrington initially taking the lead with barely three minutes on the clock as Richie Myler with a simple dummy broke through by the sticks for Brett Hodgson to convert.
Leeds appeared to hit back as Ryan Hall touched down in the corner from Kevin Sinfield's long cut-out pass, but the ball was ruled forward.
Sinfield, captaining his side a record seventh time in a Grand Final, was soon the Leeds' hero at both ends, however, as they did strike back.
Firstly, he reacted quickest to cover Joel Monaghan's kick infield. Moments later, he supported superbly, following his own high kick, to dart in on the angle from Carl Ablett's lay-off. The loose-forward also added the touchline conversion, and booted a 25th-minute penalty from 35 yards to eke his side ahead.
A second Rhinos free-kick soon after led to their next try. Most of their' attacking had been down the left but on a rare excursion down the right, Ben Jones-Bishop scored from Danny McGuire's fine pass. Sinfield, involved in that try too, added another touchline goal.
Warrington were shell-shocked; Leeds well on top.
However, a dropped ball by Ablett, a first penalty of the night and a repeat set in the red zone saw Wire respond, winger Joel Monaghan crossing from Lee Briers' excellent long pass.
Hodgson goaled and, as the half-time hooter sounded, he equalised with a penalty from a similar spot.
Leeds' new-found woes got worse early in the second half.
Firstly, Sinfield, hitherto the game's star man, was laid out after a clash of heads with Michael Monaghan after he had kicked upfield. Only the Warrington sub will know if it was a butt or, as seemed the case, an accidental collision as he closed the kicker down.
Sinfield – nicknamed “Sir Kevin” by the Rhinos faithful - rose to his feet and back into action.
However, a horrible mistake by his full-back, Zak Hardaker, kept Warrington on the front foot - gifting them possession in the danger zone, with Ryan Atkins barging over in the corner for a four-point lead.
Leeds, aided by a couple of penalties, got back on top, though, and, although a rare mistake by Sinfield – trying to force an offload – let Wire off the hook, they still soon retook the lead, as Ablett blasted over, with Sinfield's goal making it 20-18.
Then, when Ryan Hall ended a mesmeric attack with Leeds' fourth try of the night, and Sinfield added another fine goal, the game already seemed up, with nine minutes left.
There was indeed no final twist, and that man Sinfield, named man of the match to take the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the second time, lifted the Super League silverware yet again.
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