In this list we’re looking at the five best individual teams to never win a Super League Grand Final. As the competition has been dominated by four clubs over the years, we won’t include those who have lifted the title previously, such as St Helens in 2018.
5. Warrington Wolves 2016
This Wolves side were eight points away from joining Bradford, St Helens and Leeds as the only treble winners in Super League history, making them one of the best ‘what if’ scenarios in recent rugby league history. They edged a brilliant three-horse race for the League Leaders Shield against eventual champions Wigan and cup winners Hull FC. It’s a shame they were unable to show that class in the major finals they contested, losing 12-10 at Wembley and 12-6 at Old Trafford. In what would be Tony Smith’s last good season at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington scored 852 points over the season and it’s still a mystery as to how they have never claimed a Super League title.
4. Huddersfield Giants 2013
One of my personal favourite teams to never win a Grand Final – or even play in one sadly – was the Huddersfield Giants team led by Paul Anderson. Anderson built the Giants into one of the competition’s best teams and most notably made their defence as strong as steel, conceding only 507 points across the 2013 season. They were also no stranger in racking up huge scores in big games, putting 70 past Hull in the play-offs and destroying St Helens in the season opener. Their brilliance in attack owed a lot to Danny Brough and Shaun Lunt, the former being crowned Man of Steel that year. Unfortunately they were unable to produce the goods in the playoffs as Grand Finalists Wigan and Warrington overpowered them when it mattered most.
3. Castleford Tigers 2017
It is perhaps one of the biggest tragedies in Super League that this Cas side failed to win the big one. The Tigers played some beautiful stuff in 2017 and were by far the best team that year, scoring 965 points on the way to racking up 25 league wins. Man of Steel Luke Gale was simply sensational and his drop goal in the playoff semi-final against Saints will live long in the memory. Zak Hardaker was also at the top of his game, but his and the Tigers season ended in huge disappointment. After the star full-back was banned for a failed drugs test on the eve of the Grand Final, Daryl Powell’s side fell short at the Theatre of Dreams, losing to a Leeds side they had dominated in their previous meetings that season.
2. Hull FC 2016
Somewhat controversially, this Hull side is higher than Castleford’s class of 2017. You always felt that Lee Radford’s men were at the peak of their powers around this period and should have won the Grand Final. They lifted the Challenge Cup in style, toppling Wigan in an enthralling semi-final before a super comeback win over Warrington at Wembley. They had speed, physicality and flair in abundance, with Marc Sneyd pulling the strings from the halves alongside Danny Houghton at hooker. After their cup triumph, the Black & Whites went into the Super 8s as league leaders and favourites to win the Super League title. However a poor run saw them lose four of their next seven games, finishing third before losing 28-18 at Wigan in the semi-final.
1. Warrington Wolves 2011
For me this Warrington side were the best to never win the Grand Final. They were the culmination of years of work by Tony Smith as he fashioned the Wolves into an irrepressible attacking unit that would score 1072 points across the campaign – the third highest total in Super League history. The mercurial Lee Briers was pulling the strings from the halves, Michael Monaghan and Micky Higham dominated the ruck area, while full-back was former Man of Steel Brett Hodgson. They had a choice of Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins and Matt King at centre, Joel Monaghan was prolific on the wing and Adrian Morley and Ben Westwood were the enforcers of a dominant pack. They seemed destined to win the Grand Final but they became victims of the famous ‘Club Call’ as they selected to face Leeds over Wigan in the semi-final, losing a classic encounter 26-24 as the Rhinos went on to win the title from fifth.