The top 10 derby matches in Super League history

Everyone loves a good derby. Well, everyone except the losers which is what makes them so special. They’re the games you absolutely have to win.

That gives the game an extra layer of desperation and emotion making the fixtures bubble with meaning. They’re ferocious contests the neutrals can enjoy and supporters can throw themselves into.

In Super League history we’ve been blessed with some huge derbies such as Bradford-Leeds, the Hull derby and of course St Helens v Wigan. Often these games produce the goods and become the games of the year. So, today we’re looking at the 10 best derby matches in Super League history.

10. Leigh Centurions 50-34 Wigan Warriors 2017

The Wigan-Leigh derby is an understated one. However, there really is a deep-seated hatred between the two Lancashire teams. Leigh are always desperate to beat Wigan and Wigan are always desperate to avoid defeat to the underdogs. But on a summer evening in 2017 the underdogs blew away the champions. After a topsy turvy opening first half that saw Wigan open the scoring only for Leigh to run in three consecutive tries prior to a Warriors resurgence, Leigh pulled away. A pair of Liam Hood tries set the Centurions on their way to the half century and a first win over Wigan in 33 years.

9. Leeds Rhinos 24-25 Castleford Tigers 2018

Leeds and Cas have a superb rivalry and over the last 7 years the two have battled it out for silverware. The Tigers were beaten by Leeds in the 2014 Challenge Cup Final and in 2017 the Rhinos toppled them in the Grand Final. This game in 2018 was their first meeting after that Grand Final and the Tigers were desperate for revenge in front of a record-breaking crowd at Elland Road. The Tigers started like a house on fire quickly amassing a 24-0 lead. However, a superb Leeds comeback saw the Rhinos claw back to 25-20 thanks to braces from Kallum Watkins and Ash Handley. Leeds very nearly snatched the win when Ryan Hall scored in the corner late on but Watkins’ missed conversion denied them.

8. St Helens 21-21 Wigan Warriors 2004

This game epitomised the bad-blood between Saints and Wigan as tensions boiled over and culminated in a 26-man mass brawl. The Saints had the better start against their rivals taking a 6-point advantage but a spirited Wigan fightback left the score at 20-20. An Andy Farrell drop goal seemed to have won it for Wigan however that was swiftly cancelled out by Sean Long as the rivals shared the spoils in this pulsating and explosive derby.

7. Bradford Bulls 22-21 Leeds Rhinos 2003

Unfortunately for Leeds, no such sharing of the spoils occurred in a similar contest at Odsal in 2003. 2003-05 were the peak years for the Bradford-Leeds derby and for a time it was the biggest game in the league as the pair battled it out for silverware. In front of 21,102 fans Bradford broke Leeds hearts for the fourth time in 2003 with the narrowest of wins. The Rhinos had four tries disallowed leaving them feeling deflated when a Paul Deacon drop goal won the game and all but ended their hopes of pinching top spot from the Bulls.

6. Wakefield 29-17 Castleford 2006

How do you make a derby mean more? Make it all about survival. That was the case in 2006 as Wakefield and Castleford met in the ‘Relegation Grand Final.’ An end-to-end contest ensued. The Tigers started the better taking an early 11-2 lead but a spirited Wakefield fightback condemned Cas to the Championship with a James Evans try clinching the game.

5. Hull KR 20-22 Hull FC 2016

The Hull derby is a special derby. And in 2016 it was even more so as Hull FC battled at the top desperate for success whilst Hull KR scrapped for survival at the other end of the table adding extra spice to the contest. The Rovers cruised into a 20-0 lead. With 20 minutes to go, a famous win for the Robins seemed certain. However, tries from Jamie Shaul, Danny Houghton, Mahe Fonua and Steve Michaels dragged the Airlie Birds level before Sneyd won it with the touchline conversion.

4. Hull FC 30-32 Hull KR 2012

This scintillating if a little controversial Magic Weekend derby saw a fantastic long range try from David Hodgson snatch a comeback win for Hull KR against their biggest rivals. Their comeback was tinged by controversy as Michael Dobson scored off a blatant forward pass to trim the Hull advantage down to 30-28 after they had led 30-16. Then Hodgson came up with the match winning play to seal a famous comeback win. This game was christened with attacking rugby, drama and of course that superb last-minute winner.

3. Leeds Rhinos 42-38 Bradford Bulls 2007

Controversial ending aside, this was a scintillating game which defined the very best of the Magic Weekend – rivals battling and scoring exhilarating tries. An end-to-end affair with the winner promised top spot, the West Yorkshire rivals traded superb scores. Brent Webb scored a fantastic hat-trick but looked set to end up on the losing side as Bradford held on to a 38-36 lead. However, the Rhinos were given a controversial penalty. Sinfield hit the post and an offside Jordan Tansey snatched the ball and scored to win the game in the most controversial fashion adding another element to a superb derby.

2. Wigan Warriors 28-24 St Helens 2011

Another game christened by a late winner, in a repeat of the 2010 Grand Final St Helens battled back from 12 points down only to lose the game in virtually the last play of the traditional Good Friday fixture. Saints started the better with some outstanding attacking play a lot owing to third-choice stand-off Gary Wheeler. However, the Champions took charge and marched 22-10 ahead. Jamie Foster however was having a brilliant game and his second try sparked the comeback. He then converted Tommy Makinson’s effort to level the game before notching what appeared to be the clinching points with a penalty. But it wasn’t to be as Wigan earned a late drop out and Liam Farrell crashed over for the winning try.

1. St Helens 8-4 Wigan Warriors 2020

One of the greatest Grand Finals of all time simply had to top this list. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an outstanding defensive effort from two teams. You could tell it meant everything to both sides. Both were desperate to claim the crown as well as deny their biggest rivals. It was a physical, tense battle royal and looked destined to be the first Grand Final to go to golden point. However, a shocking Jack Welsby try as Makinson’s drop goal attempt hit the post snatched a second consecutive Super League crown for St Helens.

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