11192017

Leeds reach 10th Grand Final after thrilling win over Hull FC

Liam Sutcliffe scored the game's winning try

Liam Sutcliffe scored the game’s winning try after Hull had taken the lead for the only time

Leeds reached a record-equalling 10th Super League Grand Final after holding on to win a thrilling semi-final against Hull FC.

The Rhinos dominated the early stages and Stevie Ward and Anthony Mullally gave them a deserved 12-0 lead.

Tries either side of the break from Gareth Ellis, Mahe Fonua and Sika Manu saw the Black and Whites edge in front.

But Liam Sutcliffe powered his way over to set up a showdown with Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford on 7 October.

In reaching a 10th Grand Final, Leeds draw level on Old Trafford appearances with St Helens, who were beaten by Luke Gale’s dramatic drop-goal in golden-point extra-time in the other semi-final on Thursday.

It also represents a dramatic turnaround in fortunes by Brian McDermott’s side, who followed up their historic treble of 2015 by finishing ninth last season and had to earn their Super League place this term through the Qualifiers.

And it denied Hull the chance of completing a double of their own after retaining the Challenge Cup by beating Wigan at Wembley last month.

Leeds say goodbye to key duo

Leeds’ victory proved a fitting farewell to Headingley to two club legends, with Rob Burrow retiring at the end of the season to join the club’s academy coaching staff while Danny McGuire is joining promoted Hull KR for their return to the top flight.

Danny McGuire<!–

Danny McGuire was playing his last game for Leeds at Headingley

The duo were given a guard of honour before the game, and McGuire played a leading role in Leeds’ strong start.

The half-back won a penalty after being tackled on his standing leg after kicking by Liam Watts, which eventually led to Ward brilliantly stretching out of a tackle to score.

McGuire was then at the heart of the Rhinos’ second try, creating the space for replacement Mullally to score with his first touch after coming off the bench.

Former Leeds and England forward Ellis, who will now retire after this defeat for Hull, powered over just before half-time to give this visitors hope.

And the Black and Whites looked on course for a first Grand Final since 2006 when Jake Connor put Fonua in at the corner before Manu touched down to give them the lead for the first and only time.

Brad Singleton thought he had put Leeds back in front but was ruled to have been held up over the line, but Sutcliffe was not to be denied as he surged over to finish a fine Leeds move and condemn Hull to a 13th-straight defeat at Headingley.

‘It’s a massive achievement to get to the Grand Final

Leeds half-back Rob Burrow told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: “It’s obviously a big event, win or lose, but it’s certainly better to go out with a win and get back to Old Trafford.

“It was a close game but I wasn’t thinking it might be my last game. There was a desperation to keep them out and we did it.

“I’m lucky enough to have had a great career, playing with some special players and enjoyed some success but it’s certainly nice to get to the Grand Final.

“Cas will take some beating next week but we’ve just got to build on tonight.”

Leeds captain Danny McGuire told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: “That was a tough game. Credit to Hull, they’re a great team and they kept hanging in there.

“I thought we were going to run away with it when we had a couple of opportunities but Hull kept hanging in there and we had to work hard towards the end.

“From where we were last year it’s a massive achievement to get to the Grand Final.”

Hull FC forward Gareth Ellis told BBC Radio 5 live sports extra: “It’s disappointing. We brought our game in the end but we didn’t play well enough in the first half.

“Leeds out-muscled us, we got ourselves back into it, but I’m just disappointed that I won’t get to do this again more than anything.

“I’ve been preparing for it for a few weeks and I felt ready for it but when it happens like tonight it’s disappointing.”

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

Replacements: Burrow, Ablett, Ferres, Mullally.

Hull FC: Shaul, Fonua, Connor, Tuimavave, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Ellis.

Replacements: Griffin, Bowden, Green, Fash.

Ref: Phil Bentham

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