Leeds Rhinos are through to their tenth Super League Grand Final after edging out Hull FC 18-16 in another thrilling semi-final at Headingley.
It was Liam Sutcliffe’s try 15 minutes from time that proved to be the difference, with Kallum Watkins’ touchline conversion giving the Rhinos a slender advantage they wouldn’t surrender.
Brian McDermott’s team raced into a 12-0 lead in the first quarter but FC came back to go 16-12 ahead in the second half and they looked the better team at this stage.
However in Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow’s last game on home turf, Leeds rallied in the final stages to ensure they would set up an all-West Yorkshire Grand Final with Castleford at Old Trafford.
The result also saw Hull’s woeful record at Headingley continue with the Black and Whites now without a win away to the Rhinos in over a decade.
The game started at a fast pace and Leeds were piggybacked up field when Liam Watts hit Danny McGuire late after a kick down field.
Straight from the tap penalty, Stevie Ward showed superb strength to hold off Danny Houghton and as he went to ground, the second-rower kept the ball-carrying arm off ground and stretched out to put the ball on the try line.
Leeds dominated the opening stages with Hull were unable to cope with the offloading game of Adam Cuthberston and the sheer aggression of their forward pack.
The second try came as we approached the end of the first quarter when Danny McGuire ran it on the last play and his inside ball found Anthony Mullally who scored with his first touch.
Hull needed field position and when they got it they took full advantage as Houghton’s no-look pass put Gareth Ellis over from close range to reduce the deficit to six points.
The Black and Whites were now in the game and they started to take control of field position in the final 10 minutes, but were unable to find a way over as the Rhinos held a 12-6 lead at the break.
After the restart Hull picked up where they left off well and they got the all-important try as Jake Connor held off Rob Burrow before offloading over the top for Mahe Fonua in the corner.
Hull hit the front for the first time in the 56th minute as moments after Brad Singleton’s try was disallowed, they went up the other end and Jake Connor tipped back Sneyd’s kick for Sika Manu to score.
Their lead only lasted six minutes though as Singleton and Ryan Hall combined to put Liam Sutcliffe over, Watkins kicked the conversion to put Leeds 18-16 up going into the final stages.
Hull threatened but couldn’t breach the hosts line meaning Leeds return to Old Trafford for a record-equalling tenth time as they go in search of their eighth Super League Grand Final against local rivals Castleford – the team who they have lost to in their last eight meetings.