Sinfield leads Rhinos charge into Grand Final
Wigan Warriors’ chairman, Ian Lenagan, launched a war of words in the week preceding last Friday’s Super League play-off semi-final against Leeds Rhinos when he signalled his club’s intentions of ending Leeds’ dominance in the competition; the Rhinos have won four of the last five Grand Finals. However, what Lenagan never anticipated was the sublime kicking game of Leeds’ captain Kevin Sinfield and the team’s confidence in play-off rugby.
League leaders Wigan were without the suspended Micky McIlorum and, more significantly, the injured Sam Tomkins, whilst Leeds were missing the suspended Danny McGuire. This contributed to a nervy start for both teams entailing a string of handling errors which went unpunished until the 13th minute, when Leeds’ Kallum Watkins intercepted a poor pass from Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin before bursting into an 80 metre sprint to score Leeds’ first and only try of the match, which Sinfield converted.
Things then went from bad to worse for the shaky Lancashire side when Harrison Hansen conceded a penalty for interfering with the play of the ball – Sinfield added two points. The Rhinos’ captain continued to lead by example; his 40-20 in the 23rd minute led to a scrum for the away side, which was swiftly followed by another penalty given away by the offside defence of the home team. Sinfield again converted, before he added an extra point courtesy of a drop goal in the 30th minute – giving Leeds an 11-0 lead at half time.
With the words of coach Shaun Wane still ringing in the Wigan players’ ears, they didn’t take long to respond in the second half. Hansen scored a try in the 42nd minute, which Pat Richards converted. Attentions soon turned to referee Richard Silverwood. The official, who had already had a poor game, handed Wigan a scrum for a Shaun Lunt knock-on; although replays show that the ball was stolen by Wigan’s Darrell Goulding. The Warriors scored through Richards immediately after, who then converted his own try. Wigan led 12-11, leaving Leeds fans incandescent.
With just three minutes left Leeds’ chances looked bleak, until Wigan gifted them a lifeline through a penalty just ten metres from the line; again the Cherries’ defensive line was deemed offside. The immense Sinfield added two points, and the Rhinos were able to maintain their 13-12 lead until the end. The Rhinos will face Warrington Wolves in Saturday’s Grand Final at Old Trafford.
Author: Ste Topping