The inaugural JJB Super League Grand Final
saw John Monie's Wigan Warriors defeat Leeds Rhinos 10-4 in a
tight encounter on a wet Saturday evening at Old Trafford.
crowd of 43,533 was enthralled by the game, despite terrible
conditions, with the result not certain until the final kick of
the match, when Wigan captain Andy Farrell added his second
penalty of the night.
Jason Robinson won the Harry Sunderland trophy as the Man of
the Match, and it was his try shortly before half time that put
the Warriors in the lead, one which they were never to surrender.
Defence was certainly the order of the day in a marvellous
encounter, with the Leeds back three of Adrian Morley, Anthony
Farrell and Marc Glanville outstanding in the face of massive
Wigan pressure throughout the match.
Robbie McCormack and Henry Paul, joining Mark Bell in playing
their final game for the Warriors, were also excellent, while
skipper Farrell was an absolute rock on both attack and defence.
Robinson may have been the pick of the backs, but Richie
Blackmore always looked a danger against Danny Moore, while Gary
Connolly and Brad Godden enjoyed a fine duel.
The game burst to life in the 21st minute when, after Iestyn
Harris had split the Wigan defence only to be hauled down ten
yards out, the ball was moved wide by Ryan Sheridan for Blackmore
to slide over and open the scoring.
Harris narrowly missed with the conversion attempt, having
already done the same with a penalty from a similar wide position,
and Graham Murray's men had to be content with a 4-0 lead, despite
having the better of the opening quarter.
Wigan began to come back into the game in the final ten minutes
before the break, Robinson making a 35-yard break inside his own
half before Mestrov and Paul found half-gaps.
Tony Smith's kick to the corner dipped over Cummins but under
the diving figure of Robinson as Wigan threatened the Leeds line
for the first time before, in the 37th minute, they finally made
the pressure count.
Robinson picked the ball up at dummy half and moved infield
before racing between Darren Fleary and Jamie Mathiou and past
Harris from 20 yards out to dive under the posts. Farrell added
the simple conversion, giving Wigan a 6-4 lead at the interval.
The second half began with similar intensity, and Francis
Cummins' fine tackle on Farrell after the Wigan skipper had broken
clear was wasted when Mark Glanville conceded a penalty a minute
Farrell added the two points from close range and suddenly
Leeds were four points behind, and the deficit could have been
extended had Bell had his effort disallowed by the video referee
three minutes later.
The winger was adjudged to have knocked on after collecting a
Neil Cowie bomb, regathering off Harris' chest to touch down,
Leeds able to breathe a sigh of relief as the giant screen flashed
Harris inspired a comeback from the Rhinos as they mounted
pressure on the Wigan line, but his pass to Cummins went straight
into touch before Rivett was pushed over the sidelines at the
other side following a Blackmore pass which was ruled forward.
And Wigan heeded the warnings to pen the Rhinos in their own
half, Mick Cassidy going to within inches before being hauled down
under a fine last-ditch tackle from Ryan Sheridan as the Warriors
wasted chance after chance for a drop goal.
The Leeds scrum half then had what was eventually their last
chance when, with five minutes remaining, he burrowed to the line
only for the ball to spurt free under a four-man tackle.
As the desperation mounted, Wigan moved back downfield and,
after Holroyd had knocked on, he conceded a penalty forty metres
With little over a minute on the clock, Farrell decided to kick
for goal, and his sweetly struck effort dissected the goalposts to
seal a glorious, but hard-fought, 10-4 victory.