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Leeds clinch record 6th rugby league title
By Mark Shales
11:51 AEST Sun Oct 7 2012

Defending champions Leeds won a record sixth Super League grand final on Saturday, beating Warrington 26-18 at Old Trafford.

The Wolves, playing in their first grand final, came up against a Rhinos side in their eighth title decider and the experience of the likes of Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield proved too much.

Though Warrington went ahead early in the second half, Sinfield's personal tally of 14 points proved vital as Ryan Hall, Carl Ablett and Ben Jones-Bishop all scored tries for Leeds.

Warrington manager Tony Smith, who guided Leeds to two Super League titles in his tenure there, would have been the first man ever to coach two different teams to the ultimate prize in Super League.

But the ex-St George Dragons five-eighth missed out on a chance to make history before 70,676 fans at Manchester United's ground.

Despite tries from former Canberra Raider Joel Monaghan and some pinpoint kicking from ex-Wests Tiger Brett Hodgson it was not their night.

"A month ago we were dead and buried. We got a towelling at Huddersfield and you couldn't have written this again," Sinfield told Sky Sports.

"You come here against a great side and we were able to grind that out again.

"Our boys have really dug in for a month now. Wakefield, Catalan away, Wigan away and this. All great scenes."

In a re-match of August's Challenge Cup final that Warrington won handsomely it was Smith's men who came roaring out the blocks.

Richie Myler squeezed his way over with only four minutes on the clock, Hodgson adding the extras.

After the first quarter of an hour it was still only 6-0, Hall coming closest for Leeds in the 12th minute but his try was ruled out for an extremely marginal forward pass.

But the Rhinos' first score was not long in coming and when it did it was captain marvel Sinfield, playing in his seventh grand final, at the heart of it.

His high kick caused pandemonium, Ablett collected it and offloaded to his skipper who went over in the left-hand corner, his subsequent conversion making it 6-6.

Then, in the 25th minute, Ben Harrison's interference at Ryan Bailey's play-the-ball conceded a penalty and Sinfield slotted the kick from 30 metres to put the defending champions two points ahead.

Two minutes later Jones-Bishop went over in the right-hand corner after being fed by Danny McGuire and slipping a couple of tackles and Sinfield's conversion made it 14-6.

But back came Warrington and when Monaghan dived over in the right-hand corner and Hodgson converted in the 37th it was back to a two-point game.

There was another twist to come in a compelling first half as Leeds strayed offside in the final play and Hodgson held his nerve to slot a penalty, levelling it up at 14-14.

Four minutes after the interval the Wolves were back in front as Ryan Atkins forced his way over in the left corner but Hodgson missed for the first time in the match.

Hard-nosed defending from Warrington withstood wave after wave of Leeds attacks as the hour mark approached.

Finally something had to give and it was Ablett who did the job, barging over from short range in the 54th minute after 10 minutes of sustained pressure.

Sinfield's faultless kicking in the play-offs continued as his conversion put the Rhinos just ahead at 20-18.

Hall went over in the 73rd minute, again fed by the impressive Ablett and Sinfield continued his nerveless display with the conversion to make it 26-18.