Leeds beat Castleford to win eighth Grand Final

Leeds lift the Super League trophy

Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow lifted the Super League trophy after making their final appearances for Leeds

Danny McGuire marked his final Leeds game with two second-half tries as the Rhinos beat Castleford Tigers to win a record eighth Super League Grand Final.

Captain McGuire, who will play for promoted Hull KR in 2018, was named man of the match at Old Trafford for the second time in three seasons.

Tom Briscoe scored the Rhinos’ other two tries on a wet night in Manchester.

Alex Foster grabbed a late consolation for League Leaders’ Shield winners Castleford.

His last-minute score meant the Tigers narrowly avoided becoming the first side not to score a point in a Grand Final.

Too many handling errors proved costly in their first appearance in Super League’s showpiece, and contributed to them struggling to reproduce the free-flowing rugby that saw them finish 10 points clear of Leeds at the top of the table.

McGuire and the retiring Rob Burrow, featuring in his last match for the Rhinos before joining the coaching staff at the club’s academy, are two of only three players to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in the 20-year history of the Grand Final. The other is their former team-mate Kevin Sinfield.

The perfect farewell

Danny McGuire<!–

Danny McGuire scored the match-clinching try in Leeds’ first Grand Final win against Bradford in 2004

In 2015, legendary Leeds trio Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai bowed out in style with a Grand Final win over Wigan.

The Rhinos said farewell to two more legends in similar fashion on Saturday, with McGuire’s contribution key to his side’s victory.

Leeds’ resolute defence was typified in one first-half moment when, as Super League’s leading try scorer Greg Eden seemed destined to touch down in the corner, McGuire made a desperate grab for the ball and it slipped from the grasp of the Castleford full-back.

McGuire’s drop-goal in the closing seconds of the first period gave Leeds a seven-point advantage at the interval and he was on the spot to collect the loose ball when Eden lost an aerial challenge with Ryan Hall.

Leeds’ fans sang McGuire’s name lustily late on, and with good reason. He and Burrow have appeared in all eight of the Rhinos’ Grand Final wins.

Burrow – who scored arguably the best try in Grand Final history in Leeds’ 2011 win over St Helens – came off the bench for the final 15 minutes. As Castleford hopes faded, the pair had the chance to say goodbye in style, combining for McGuire’s second and Leeds’ fourth try of the contest.

Rhinos recover from woeful 2016

If the domestic treble of 2015 was the stuff of dreams for Leeds, then 2016 was their annus horribilis.

The defence of their Super League title was over before the Super 8s split, and it took a decent run of results in the Qualifiers to guarantee their Super League status.

There have been rocky moments along the way to an eighth Grand Final win – a 66-10 thumping by Castleford in March, for one.

But the Rhinos have an uncanny knack of coming good when it matters, and 2017 was no different.

Tigers fail to roar at Old Trafford

Dejected Castleford<!–

Castleford had beaten Leeds four times during the Super League season

This season will go down as one of the greatest in Castleford’s history, despite a painful defeat in the Grand Final.

Their tale in recent years really is one of “rags to riches”. As recently as 2013, they were within 30 minutes of extinction.

Off the field, they have become a stable business. On it, under Daryl Powell, they have steadily grown into a team capable of challenging for major trophies.

Adopting an exciting, expansive style, the Tigers have been the dominant force of Super League in 2017 and finished top of the table for the first time in their 91-year history.

Zak Hardaker’s omission on Thursday because of a “breach of club rules” could be pointed to as a disruption in the build-up, but in truth Castleford were below the standards they have set throughout the campaign.

Castleford: Eden; Minikin, Webster, Shenton, Hitchcox; Roberts, Gale; Massey, McShane, Sene-Lefao, Holmes, McMeeken, Milner.

Replacements: Millington, Moors, Cook, Foster.

Leeds: Walker; Briscoe, Watkins, Sutcliffe, Hall; Moon, McGuire; Singleton, Parcell, Garbutt, Jones-Buchanan, Ward, Cuthbertson.

Replacements: Burrow, Ablett, Ferres, Mullally

Referee: James Child (RFL)

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