Leeds Rhinos return to Super League Grand Final after thrilling win at Wigan Warriors
Last Updated: 29/09/12 7:44am
Rhinos forward Ian Kirke is tackled by Matty Smith
Kevin Sinfield kicked a penalty four minutes from time to take champions Leeds back to Old Trafford with a 13-12 victory at Wigan.
The Rhinos were on the back foot throughout a frantic second half but held on before earning a late chance for their skipper.
And just as he had done in last year's semi-final at table-topping Warrington, Sinfield held his nerve to lead the Rhinos to a fifth Grand Final in six years.
Wigan were dealt a late blow when Sam Tomkins was ruled out just hours before kick-off with a knee injury, so 20-year-old Jack Murphy was called on to step in.
And it was a crucial error from the youngster which led to that late match-winning penalty.
He failed to deal with Sinfield's high bomb and with the Wigan defenders streaming back, a quick play-the-ball from Ryan Hall led almost inevitably to an offside.
Sinfield knocked over the two points and the table-toppers had once again been toppled by fifth-placed Leeds a game away from Old Trafford.
The Leeds defence was superb throughout, particularly in a first half they dominated.
They scored the only try after 13 minutes as Brett Finch's pass went to ground and Kallum Watkins scooped up the loose ball and raced 90 metres to score, with Sinfield adding the extras.
Wigan had just one chance in the opening 40 minutes, but Gareth Hock's pass was dropped by Pat Richards.
Leeds were content to thrive on pressure, swarming around Wigan's runners and taking points when they got inside the Wigan half.
Sinfield kicked two penalties - one for interference the other for offside - as well as a drop-goal which was to ultimately prove to be the difference between the sides.
Inevitably Wigan came out fast after the break and quickly got their reward after Sean O'Loughlin's break set up the chance for Tommy Leuluai to put Harrison Hansen in, with Richards converting.
Just past the hour mark Shaun Lunt was harshly ruled to have knocked on inside his own 20 and Brett Finch supplied the pass for Richards to slide in at the corner, with the winger edging Wigan ahead from the touchline.
Somehow Leeds survived frenzied Wigan pressure in the final quarter to stay in touch.
Their reward came in the final moments, although there was still time for Josh Charnley to break clear. Hall could easily have been penalised for holding his opposite number down as the Leeds defence streamed back, but the whistle stayed silent and Leeds are back in the Grand Final.
First Utility Super League
Tue 30th Jun
Hull K R34 - 28Salford Red Devils
Wed 1st Jul
Wakefield Wildcats26 - 16Hull FC
Thu 2nd Jul
Warrington Wolves17 - 6Wigan Warriors
Fri 3rd Jul
Leeds Rhinos46 - 18St Helens
Sun 5th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Hull K R
Hull FC0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Thu 9th Jul
Wigan WarriorsvsLeeds Rhinos
Fri 10th Jul
St HelensvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 12th Jul
Hull FC0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Salford Red Devils0 - 0Hull K R
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Thu 16th Jul
Warrington WolvesvsSt Helens
Fri 17th Jul
Hull K RvsHull FC
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Wigan Warriors0 - 0Widnes Vikings
Sat 18th Jul
Catalans DragonsvsHuddersfield Giants
Sun 19th Jul
Wakefield Wildcats0 - 0Castleford Tigers
Thu 23rd Jul
Hull FCvsWigan Warriors
Fri 24th Jul
St Helens0 - 0Hull K R
Sun 26th Jul
Huddersfield Giants0 - 0Wakefield Wildcats
Leeds Rhinos0 - 0Catalans Dragons
Widnes Vikings0 - 0Salford Red Devils
Castleford Tigers0 - 0Warrington Wolves
Super League play-offs Week 3
Warrington coach Tony Smith described his club's inaugural Grand Final appearance as "an enormous achievement".
Warrington reached their first Grand Final and ended St Helens' run of six straight trips to Old Trafford.
Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield says current Rhinos boss Brian McDermott is the best coach he has ever worked under.