Super League: A pick of the best Grand Finals
A look at the most exciting Grand Finals since its inception back in 1998
Last Updated: 01/10/13 4:43pm
Andy Farrell guided Wigan Warriors to Super League glory in 1998
With Super League XVIII nearing its conclusion we look back at previous Grand Finals and pick out the best of the bunch since its inception in the 1998 season.
Will the 2013 final between the Warrington Wolves and the Wigan Warriors make the final cut in years to come?
1998 - Wigan Warriors 10-4 Leeds Rhinos
It is tough to believe the first ever Grand Final was 15 years ago. Leeds and Wigan walked out at Old Trafford for the first time in front of a crowd just short of 44,000, an incredible figure considering the showpiece event now regularly hits the 70,000 mark, although the capacity has increased greatly since 1998. Graham Murray's contenders struck first with Richie Blackmore opening the scoring, however Wigan were the favourites and they eventually asserted their dominance on the occasion. Jason Robinson, so often the scourge of hometown club Leeds, darted through the Rhinos' defence in the rain to score the decisive try in Manchester. They were the only tries of the match as Andy Farrell kicked three goals for John Monie's team.
Sean Long landed the winning drop-goal in 2002 as St Helens edged out the Bradford Bulls
2002 - St Helens 19-18 Bradford Bulls
The 2002 showpiece remains the only Grand Final where the teams have been separated by a solitary point. The final saw the top two in the table meet in Manchester, ironically both sides had identical Super League records. Scott Naylor opened the scoring for the Bulls, who made the perfect start. Paul Deacon's penalty extended their advantage before Mike Bennett's controversial score got Saints on the board. Sean Long's try from Brandon Costin's knock-on before half time gave Ian Millward's side the lead. Fantastic scores from Robbie Paul and Michael Withers gave the Bulls a six-point advantage. Martin Gleeson's try and Long's penalty levelled the scores. In the final minute strong runs from Darren Albert and Paul Newlove gave St Helens excellent field position before Keiron Cunningham picked out Long and he slotted over the one pointer from 20 meters out to clinch the title.
Matt Diskin was one the scoresheet in 2004 as Leeds ended their 32-year wait for a title
2004 - Leeds Rhinos 16-8 Bradford Bulls
It had been 32 years since Leeds were crowned champions prior to the 2004 final against Bradford. The Bulls had stunned the league leaders by winning 26-12 to clinch their place in the Grand Final. Leeds brushed aside Wigan 40-12 to secure a spot in Manchester the following week, setting up a rematch. Tony Smith's side were up against Brian Noble's all-conquering Bulls and it would take a special effort to triumph. Lesley Vainikolo scored the first try of the contest, but Matt Diskin touched down soon after and six points from Kevin Sinfield put Leeds in front 10-4. Shontayne Hape's try cut Leeds' deficit to just two points to set up a nervy final before Danny McGuire's try with just five minutes left secured the Rhinos' long-awaited victory.
Lee Smith scored in 2007 as Leeds ran riot against Saints with a 33-7 victory at Old Trafford
2007 - Leeds Rhinos 33-6 St Helens
The Rhinos were at it again three years after their 2004 triumph. They lost the 2005 final to the Bulls in Jamie Peacock's last game for Bradford before his move to Leeds. The Rhinos missed out altogether in the 2006 encounter that saw Saints see off Hull FC 26-4. St Helens had never been beaten at Old Trafford, winning all four of their previous trips (1999, 2000, 2002 and 2006). The pair met in the qualifying semi-final at Knowsley Road with Saints emerging victorious 10-8 in an epic encounter. Daniel Anderson's men were the favourites for the final, but Leeds had other ideas. Leeds only led 8-6 at half time with Brent Webb's try cancelled out by James Roby's score. Ali Lauitiiti bulldozed his way over in the second half and Leeds took control on the following set when Scott Donald burst clear of the defence before rounding Paul Wellens and touching down. Further tries from Lee Smith and Jamie Jones-Buchanan added the icing on a very sweet Leeds cake.
Michael Maguire's Wigan reigned surpreme in 2010 thanks to Thomas Leuluai's Man of the Match display
2010 - Wigan Warriors 22-10 St Helens
Exactly 12 years after winning the inaugural Grand Final, the Wigan Warriors were back at in 2010 with Michael Maguire at the helm. The Warriors actually lost their qualifying play-off at home to Leeds, but exacted revenge at Headingley with a remarkable 26-6 success - ending a run of three straight championships for the Rhinos. However, Wigan were not finished there. The Warriors had finished top of the table, four points clear of Saints. Mick Potter was now in charge of Saints and looking to halt a run of three straight Old Trafford defeats. Martin Gleeson opened the scoring against his former club and he scored a fabulous second, aided by support from Sam Tomkins and Thomas Leuluai. Darrell Goulding's try on 20 minutes gave Wigan a commanding 16-0 lead and although Andrew Dixon pulled one back for Saints, Sam Tomkins' effort effectively settled the contest. Francis Meli had the final say with a try in the corner.