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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Leeds Rhinos 11 Melbourne Storm 4

29th February 2008

By Leeds Rhinos

The Rhinos secured their second world title after defeating NRL side Melbourne Storm 11-4 in a memorable evening at Elland Road. Scott Donald scored a second half try whilst captain Kevin Sinfield was in inspirational form, scoring the rest of the Rhinos points to make him the most successful captain in the history of the club. Brian McClennan named the same starting line up as the one which won the engage Super League Grand Final back in October whilst Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy produced a late change to his announced side. Matt Geyer had been named at hooker but was announced at stand off whilst New Zealander Jeremy Smith was named at 9.

The Rhinos were gifted a great chance right from the kick off when Israel Falou kicked out on the full. Leeds enjoyed a good spell of pressure on the Melbourne line but they were unable to take full advantage when a high, swirling kick only just bounced away from the onrushing attack. The Rhinos then had to turn attack into defence as the Storm came firing back into the game. Two quick penalties took Melbourne down field and it took some great last ditch defence to stop Jeremy Smith from forcing his way over from close range. It was the Rhinos however who opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Billy Slater was penalised for passing after he had been tackled. Kevin Sinfield kicked the penalty from in front of the posts to take the lead. The lead lasted just four minutes however as the Storm struck back. Leeds lost possession just inside their own half and the Australians were quick to counter attack. Cooper Cronk found Ryan Hoffman out wide and he managed to get out of the tackle of Sinfield to score. Turner was unable to add the conversion with a howling gale at his back so it remained 4-2. The Rhinos were hit with another blow shortly afterwards when Danny McGuire had to leave the game after being hit by an unpunished late challenge from the Storm. Australian referee Ashley Klein was not endearing himself to the Leeds public with his strict ruling of the tackle area that often caught Leeds on the wrong side of his interpretation whilst Melbourne trod a fine line on the fair side. The Rhinos luck finally changed after four consecutive Storm penalties. Finally the "home" side were awarded the penalty and they scored in the next set. Brent Webb created the chance, ducking and weaving ten metres from the Storm line before spotting that Turner had gone to sleep on his wing, he threw a wide pass to Scott Donald who scored his seventh try of the season. Sinfield added a brilliant touchline conversion to make it 8-4 to Leeds at the break.

WP – Home MPU

The driving rain and swirling wind continued in the second half as both teams battled to find an advantage over their opponent. Twice Leeds had to defend their line in the face of immense pressure from Melbourne. Firstly, Brent Webb was penned in his in goal for force a repeat set, then Keith Senior knocked on 20 metres from his own line. On each occasion, the Rhinos responded with heroic defence. In between those two passages of play, Leeds were struck by another injury blow as Clinton Toopi was helped off the pitch after damaging his shoulder making a challenge. Having weathered the Storm, the Rhinos were then able to extend their lead. Another late shot by Melbourne was finally punished and Sinfield kicked the penalty from 30 metres out to make it 10-4 after 60 minutes. The Rhinos were then denied a try by video referee Phil Bentham who correctly spotted that Carl Ablett had knocked on trying to regather the ball before kicking ahead to touch down. The Rhinos did extend their lead with ten minutes remaining when Sinfield coolly kicked a drop goal from 25 metres out to take his side two scores clear of Melbourne. With three minutes remaining Melbourne threw everything at the Rhinos and it looked like they had got a try through Anthony Quinn, but the try was ruled out through the video referee, with Carl Ablett forcing him into touch before he grounded the ball. However, the Rhinos still had that commanding lead and after some more resolute defence, Leeds were able to hold on to claim their second World title in a memorable evening at Elland Road.

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