As the Super League play-offs get underway tonight, Love Rugby League takes a look back at some of the all-time classics from the last 15 years.
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Wigan 10 v 4 Leeds, 1998 Grand Final
The inaugural Super League Grand Final was settled by Jason Robinson’s brilliant try under the Old Trafford rain, cutting in from wide on the right before slicing through two Leeds defenders and diving under the posts. Richie Blackmore had given the Rhinos an early lead, but Robinson’s try and three Andy Farrell goals clinched the title for Wigan.
St Helens 16 v 11 Bradford, 2000
Saints were trailing 11-10 when Paul Sculthorpe played the ball 30 metres from his own line with just one second on the clock. Eight passes, 32 seconds and one Sean Long kick later, Knowsley Road erupted as Chris Joynt scored the most memorable Super League try ever seen. “Wide to West” remains one of the iconic rugby league commentaries.
St Helens 19 v 18 Bradford, 2002 Grand Final
Still the only Grand Final to be settled by a single point, Sean Long’s drop goal 50 seconds from time was followed by huge controversy surrounding Chris Joynt’s ‘voluntary tackle’. Bradford went ballistic but referee Russell Smith didn’t blow as Saints began their celebrations.
Leeds 22 v 23 Wigan, 2003
Leeds were winning 20-16 at a packed Headingley with a place in the Grand Final at stake. Step forward Brian Carney, and one of the best tries ever seen in the Super League play-offs. He spun out of two tackles, accelerated past three more defenders and then had enough pace to beat Richie Mathers. Sensational stuff before Danny Tickle’s 77th minute drop goal settled it.
Leeds 17 v 18 Warrington, 2006
Warrington stunned the Rhinos to claim their first ever play-off victory with Lee Briers’ late drop goal. Rob Burrow and Danny McGuire had given Leeds a great start, but dogged Warrington hung on and fought back through tries from Henry Fa’afili, Michael Sullivan and Ben Westwood.
Bradford 30 v 31 Wigan, 2007
The greatest comeback in play-off history, Wigan trailed 30-6 at Odsal with only 25 minutes to go. Mark Calderwood’s hat-trick try, an 85-metre intercept from Shontayne Hape’s misjudged pass, levelled the scores at 30-30 before Pat Richards landed the first drop goal of his career four minutes from time.
Warrington 24 v 26 Leeds, 2011
A pulsating clash that showed everything good about rugby league, settled only in the last minute when Kevin Sinfield booted a long-range penalty to send Leeds to Old Trafford. The Rhinos went on to make history by winning the title from fifth place.