MM’s top five… Super League Grand Finals

Wigan Warriors and St Helens go head-to-head for English rugby league’s greatest prize at Old Trafford on Saturday with both teams having reason to believe they can leave as champions.

Super League holders Wigan go into the game as the favourites despite St Helens claiming the League Leaders shield after they finished top at the end of the regular season.

This will be the second time both teams have met in Manchester this season, after kicking off their opening game at the Etihad Stadium as part of the Magic Weekend.

With the event being held at Old Trafford since its inception in 1998, here at Mancunian Matters we have put together what we believe to be the best grand finals so far.

5.   Bradford Bulls 15-6 Leeds Rhinos – 2005

Revenge was sweet for Bradford in 2005. Especially when it comes against your local rivals.

After succumbing to a 15-6 defeat to their Yorkshire counterparts the year before, they went head-to-head once again, this time the Bulls got the better of the holders.

With both teams being the dominant sides in rugby at the time, the match sprung into life just before 20 minutes with 14 points in 11 minutes giving Bradford an 8-6 lead going into half time.

The second half was all Bradford as they managed to keep Leeds out for the duration to claim their third championship in five years, thanks to a Leon Price try and a Paul Deacon drop goal to seal the win.

4.  Leeds Rhinos 26-18 Warrington Wolves – 2012

Leeds gained their second consecutive championship from a record low of fifth place with a 26-18 win over Warrington, in a game which saw a stand out performance from Leeds skipper Kevin Sinfield.

Scoring 14 of the 26 points for Leeds, Sinfield earned the right to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his display, which also saw him finish the five-match playoff campaign with a 100% goalkicking record.

With the game 14-14 at half time after both sides had been in front, Leeds ran away with the second half with tries from Carl Ablett and Ryan Hall, the Rhinos’ fifth grand final triumph in six years.

3.   Leeds Rhinos 32-16 St Helens – 2011

Leeds Rhinos beat St Helens for the third time in four years to win the 2011 grand final from a record low league position of fifth place.

Rob Burrow dominated the game, scoring a brilliant individual try with a typical scampering run and also setting up Ryan Hall for the match-winner.

Saints were eight points ahead with only 20 minutes left and looked to be heading for the Super League crown after four consecutive loses in the final.

However injuries disrupted Saints and a try and penalty for Leeds in quick succession levelled the scores before Burrow broke with a dazzling run and set up Hall for the winner.

Late efforts from Carl Ablett and Zak Hardaker provided the icing on the cake for Leeds’ fourth, and most unlikely, Super League win in five years.

2.   St Helens 19-18 Bradford Bulls – 2002

In a game that was expected to be close, this was going to the extreme with the match settled in the last minute resulting in St Helens grabbing the famous win.

A Sean Long dropkick in the final 30 seconds gave St Helens a 19-18 lead but it is what happened after that will be remembered for years to come.

In the final minute St Helens’ Chris Joynt went to ground unchallenged and Bradford players felt that he should have been penalised for time wasting.

However referee Richard Smith thought otherwise and St Helens went on to record their third championship, the second time they have beaten Bradford for the title.

1.     Wigan Warriors 30-16 Warrington Wolves – 2013

Being 16-0 up with just two minutes to go until half time in a match meant the game was almost certainly the Wolves’ for the taking.

However a Darrell Goulding try in the 38th minute sparked life into a depleted Warriors side and what they did after is history.

Tries from Michael McIlorum, Josh Charnley, Blake Green and Pat Richards all converted by the number five in the space of 25 minutes, completed the biggest comeback in grand final history and earnt Wigan their second championship in four years.

This capped off a year in which Wigan became the first side since St Helens in 2006 to win both the Challenge Cup and the championship in the same season.

Main image courtesy of Super League TV via YouTube, with thanks.

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