SMITH HAILS LEEDS HEROES

Leeds coach Tony Smith was beaming with pride after his side finally ended their long title drought on Saturday.

Leeds coach Tony Smith was beaming with pride after his side finally ended their long title drought on Saturday. The Rhinos claimed their first championship for 32 years as they held their nerve to beat arch rivals Bradford 16-8 in a tense Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford. Smith’s side led by just two points until Danny McGuire pounced to settle the match with his 39th try of the season with just six minutes remaining. Victory came as a huge relief to the Headingley club, who despite topping the table by nine points faced the prospect of a barren season after a play-off loss to the Bulls a fortnight ago. Yet Smith, who took over the club late last year, claimed he never lost faith in his players’ ability. Smith said: "I am proud, very proud. They are a special bunch of guys, and I am proud to be Rhinos coach. "I never doubted we had the ability to win – although I know we were in a tough match, a real final. "I tip my hat to both teams. There was a lot of pressure, and both teams were determined not to let the other cross the try-line. "It has been a massive effort. There were 17 determined men out there, and there were others besides who have contributed throughout this season to get us there. Everyone contributed. "Whether we can handle pressure is something we have been questioned about. Can we handle the pressure? Yes."