On this day in 2008: Leeds Rhinos retain Grand Final crown

2008 Super League launch
Super League captains line up (left to right) Hull KR's Michael Veller, Catalans' Casey McGuire, Castleford's Awen Guttenbeil, Wakefield's Jason Demetriou, Wigan's Sean O'Loughlin, Leeds' Kevin Sinfield, St Helens' Paul Sculthorpe, Huddersfield's Chris Thorman, Harlequins' Rob Purdham, Bradford Bulls' Paul Deacon, Warrington's Adrian Morley and Hull FC's Lee Radford during the 2008 engage Super League Launch at Old Trafford, Manchester

Leeds upset the odds to retain their Super League crown with a 24-16 Grand Final victory over St Helens on this day in 2008.

Lee Smith was named man of the match after a starring role for Leeds Rhinos. Danny McGuire also scored two tries in a rain-lashed showpiece at Old Trafford.

Saints, hoping to give coach Daniel Anderson a winning farewell, had been strong favourites having won their previous 23 matches. They had also thrashed the Rhinos 38-10 just a fortnight earlier.

The withdrawal of Leeds full-back Brent Webb on the eve of the match also seemed to strengthen Saints’ hand.

Yet in Smith, who was shifted from the wing in an 11th-hour change to the game-plan, Leeds had a more than capable replacement.

Saints struck first with a James Graham try. However, Smith and Ryan Hall replied to give Leeds an advantage at the break.

Matt Gidley levelled but McGuire’s double secured back-to-back titles for the Rhinos despite another Saints touchdown from Ade Gardner.

Watch: Leeds Rhinos win 2008 Grand Final

“There were 17 warriors out there tonight,” said Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield, who kicked four goals.

“To claw our way back from a bit of adversity and come up with a performance like that is what Leeds is about. I’m really proud.”

Leeds’ win capped a fine first season in charge for Brian McClennan having also won the World Club Challenge.

“We knew we had to roll our sleeves up tonight and we are overwhelmed with joy because we knew it was a huge challenge,” he said.

It was a disappointing end for Anderson, who won nine trophies during his three-and-a-half years in charge at Saints.

He said: “It’s a desperately disappointed dressing room. But we’ve had some wins, we’ve had some losses and you’ve got to suck in both sides. It’s been a privilege for me to be at St Helens.”

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