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Leeds coach McDermott hails captain fantastic Sinfield after Super League title success

Leeds coach McDermott hails captain fantastic Sinfield after Super League success

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UPDATED:

22:31 GMT, 6 October 2012

The name of Kevin Sinfield was on everyone's lips as the Leeds captain inspired his side to a sixth Super League title in nine years at Old Trafford.

The 32-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance in a 26-18 success over Warrington, scoring a try and five goals despite being knocked out cold by the head of Michael Monaghan.

Trophy hunters: Kevin Sinfield and Brian McDermott

Trophy hunters: Kevin Sinfield and Brian McDermott

The injury clearly did not set him back too much, though, as he dusted himself down on his 78th successive appearance to climb the podium and lift another trophy, before returning to a shower of compliments from coaches past and present.

'To borrow a line from (Leeds president) Harry Jepson, he's not the best six Leeds have had and he's not the best 13 they've had, but he's by a long way the best captain they've had,' said Leeds' now dual title-winning boss Brian McDermott.

Touching on the Rhinos' 48-24 final-round loss to 12-man Huddersfield, which appeared to rule them out of retaining a title they also won from fifth a year ago, McDermott added: 'You don't find out the quality of people until times are tough. It's easy when you have the momentum and back-to-back wins.

The greatest: Sinfield celebrates his sixth success

The greatest: Sinfield celebrates his sixth success

'But when you're getting murdered at Huddersfield in your final game before the play-offs, and your captain knocks on your door to give you some advice… He holds it together in tough times.'

Those inside rugby league have long since acknowledged Sinfield's brilliance, but those from other fields are now starting to notice.

Wayne Rooney took to Twitter to call his performance 'a joke', such was its quality, while television presenter Clare Balding admitted to being 'choked up' by him.

Warrington coach Tony Smith is all too aware of Sinfield. The Australian coached Leeds to the first two of their six titles, with the Oldham-born player in the armband for both of them.

'He's a terrific player and one of the best club players I have seen over here,' said Smith, whose side failed to do the double having beaten Leeds to the Challenge Cup in August.

'He contributes in a massive way, not just in his performances on the field but off it. He's a steady thinker and steady hand, he does everything right and he is a real inspiration. I'm proud to have been associated with him and to have coached him.'

The man himself preferred to direct attention away from himself, short of admitting he was knocked out but was 'fine'.

It was his normally unheralded try-scoring which got Leeds going, though, getting them back on terms with an opportunist effort.

Kevin Sinfield of Leeds Rhinos lifts the trophy

Kevin Sinfield of Leeds Rhinos lifts the trophy

His goalkicking remained as steadfast as ever – he has landed 21 from as many attempts during a play-off series that has seen back-to-back wins over Wakefield (eighth place), Catalan (fourth), Wigan (first) and Warrington (second).

'It gets better to win these,' Sinfield added.

'The first one was special, but for us to come from fifth again, it's an incredible night. The last month has been awesome. The year has been tough, we talked about not being happy to be fifth, but we showed quality and desire.

'The will to win isn't just the players and the coaches, it's the whole club. Myself and Mac spoke after the Huddersfield game when they had a man sent off and put nearly 50 points on us. That was the turning point.'

After last year's win over St Helens, Sinfield and McDermott turned on the press who had written them off as a team which was over the hill.

They were more restrained tonight, with the former humbly admitting that he feels his side's final league placing suggests they are still not the finished article.

'The table doesn't lie, we were fifth and there are some great squads out there,' he said, having won 27 of the 33 votes cast for the Harry Sunderland trophy.

'Squad-wise we could be better, our team is very, very good but we need to take a leaf out of Warrington's book and the way they rotate players.'

Having been considered as many people's favourites for the title ever since the opening game back in February, Warrington found the last hurdle the hardest to climb.

They scored three tries through Richie Myler, Joel Monaghan and Ryan Atkins, but were ultimately undone by the brilliance of Sinfield.

'It was a tough game, a hard game and one that got away from us,' Smith added.

'We can be pleased with our efforts, the game ebbed and flowed, we needed to take a hold of it and up the ante. We needed to improve our kicking game and it looked like we were trying not to lose rather than to win.'

Warrington 54 Huddersfield 6: Match report

Warrington 54 Huddersfield 6: Perfect 10 for Wolves as Giants are humbled

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UPDATED:

16:20 GMT, 2 September 2012

Warrington served up a 10-try show to prove there was no hangover from their Wembley celebrations against Huddersfield.

The end result may have been a resounding one, but the Wolves did not have matters all their way until just before half-time when they were level 6-6.

Brett Hodgson followed up his man-of-the-match performance in the Challenge Cup final win over Leeds with another impressive display against his old club.

Fun time: Ryan Atkins celebrates scoring a try for Warrington

Fun time: Ryan Atkins celebrates scoring a try for Warrington

Hodgson scored a try, helped set up three others and also kicked seven goals with a hat-trick from Joel Monaghan.

Warrington were missing Ben Westwood with a knee injury and Tyrone McCarthy, Chris Riley and Lee Briers after their third Challenge Cup win out of four.

As a result, Chris Bridge, Rhys Williams, Simon Grix and Matty Blythe were recalled by boss Tony Smith against his old club.

Riley, the Wolves 25-try leading scorer, lost his ever-present record this season – just one touchdown short of 100 in his career.

Huddersfield went into the clash knowing one win from their last two games would guarantee a play-off spot for the fifth year in a row.

But the Giants were handicapped by the absence of Danny Brough, Luke O'Donnell, Luke George, Jermaine McGillvary and David Faiumu, with Matt Dawson making his debut on the wing facing Joel Monaghan.

Huddersfield made a promising start with Leroy Cudjoe held up over the line.
Keith Mason was fired up in the Huddersfield pack and it was a sloppy opening by Warrington making several handling errors.

But the Wolves went ahead after 17 minutes with a surging run from Chris Hill allowing Joel Monaghan to collect Stefan Ratchford's well-flighted kick to score in the corner and Hodgson booted the touchline conversion.

Dawson had a chance to cap his first appearance with a try but failed to take a difficult pass from Greg Eden.

Another mistake by Bridge let Huddersfield off the hook and a Scott Grix burst almost brought a try for the Giants.

A Grix 40-20 pegged Warrington back and the Huddersfield stand-off then bamboozled Paul Wood with an outrageous dummy and converted his own try to level the scores 6-6 after half an hour.

But Warrington finally put their best handling move together after 33 minutes with Richie Myler, Ratchford and Hodgson combining to put Bridge over to make it 10-6.

Then Myler's kick rebounded off the post to allow Ratchford to cross with Hodgson adding the conversion to stretch the lead to 16-6 at the interval.

Warrington substituted head-bandaged Michael Monaghan after another heavy knock but bagged their fourth try with a sizzling move.

Hodgson burst onto a pass from Wood for Ratchford to send Myler on an angled run to the line after 51 minutes to stretch the advantage to 22-6.

Then Hodgson went over to make it 28-6. before supplying the final pass for Rhys Williams to cross.

Atkins added to Huddersfield's woes with a seventh try with Bridge putting Joel Monaghan over in the corner as Huddersfield fell apart.

Monaghan completed his hat-trick before Hill capped a fine display with the final try.

Brian McDermott baffled by decision to disallow Leeds try

I can't see why that try was ruled out, says Leeds coach McDermott

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UPDATED:

22:12 GMT, 25 August 2012

Leeds Rhinos coach Brian McDermott admitted he was baffled by the decision to disallow a try in his side’s defeat by Warrington.

Video referee Phil Bentham said there had been a knock-on after a collision between Kylie Leuluai and Brett Hodgson left the Warrington full-back out cold and Brett Delaney picked up the loose ball and ran over the line.

The Super League champions have now lost on their last six appearances in the Challenge Cup final and McDermott said: ‘I didn’t see a knock-on from anybody. I just thought the ball came out of the back of his arm.

Veterans: Hodgson (right) lifts the Challenge Cup with Adrian Morley

Veterans: Hodgson (right) lifts the Challenge Cup with Adrian Morley

'That said, Warrington were the better team on the day. They played well and deserved the win. We spent the majority of the first half without momentum and I thought we were in good nick to come within touching distance. We dust ourselves off, stay tight as a group, learn from it.

'We have a hell of a lot of young players in that group who have gained some valuable experience from that.’

Hodgson said he was ‘humbled’ to receive the Lance Todd Trophy for his starring role in his side’s Carnegie Challenge Cup final win.

The veteran Australian set up two critical tries and capped a fine display by kicking five goals and crossing for a late try.

Try time: Michael Monaghan jumps for as Hodgson crosses for a try

Try time: Michael Monaghan jumps for as Hodgson crosses for a try

Hodgson said: ‘It’s huge. I have been very fortunate through my career to play with some great players, win an NRL Grand Final and now this.

'It is very humbling to receive such an honour. It is going to be something I look back on with great admiration and I am very excited and honoured to accept it.’

Hodgson, who is 34, has recently signed a contract to remain with Wolves for the next two seasons.

Coach Tony Smith praised him and the rest of the Wolves old guard, including 34-year-old Lee Briers and captain, Adrian Morley, 35, whose introduction to the field ignited the game.

Man-of-the-match: Hodgson was outstanding at Wembley

Man-of-the-match: Hodgson was outstanding at Wembley

'They make me look younger,’ he joked.

'Brett was terrific,’ said Smith. ‘He copped a pounding. He is not the fastest or the strongest or the best looking, but he knows how to coach footy. He schemed well. What he lacks in pace and size he makes up for with quickness between his ears. Those tries were all planned by him, not the coach. He was out back organising the next play and the play after that.

'Adrian really lifted us when he came on, so did Lee Briers, who is an old wily fox.

Crowded out: Hodgson is tackled by three Leeds players

Crowded out: Hodgson is tackled by three Leeds players

'There were probably a lot of crucial points but it is about taking your opportunities when they arrive.

'In these sort of matches sometimes you only get a few and if you don’t take them it can hurt you. You have got to make them happen and I thought we did make them happen, particularly in the second half.’

Warrington 35 Leeds 15: Wolves win Challenge Cup at Wembley

Warrington 35 Leeds 18: Agony for Rhinos as Wolves toast famous Wembley triumph

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UPDATED:

15:55 GMT, 25 August 2012

The heartache goes on for Leeds after they made Wembley history with a third consecutive Carnegie Challenge Cup final defeat as Warrington lifted the trophy for the third time in four years.

The Rhinos threatened to end their 13-year wait to get their hands on the famous silverware when they led 8-6 after 23 minutes, but a scoring burst of three tries in 10 minutes early in the second half provided decisive.

Leeds are masters of the Super League, with five Grand Final wins in eight years, but the Challenge Cup continues to elude them as they succumbed to a sixth final defeat since their 1999 win over London Broncos.

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

Cheer we go: Warrington players celebrate their third try scored by Chris Riley during the Carnegie Challenge Cup Final at Wembley

The game, which drew a 79,180 crowd,
had been fiercely contested and was finely balanced until Warrington,
having benefited from a crucial decision by video referee Phil Bentham
to disallow a Leeds try early in the second half, cut loose with veteran
full-back Brett Hodgson leading the way in a man-of-the-match
performance.

Hodgson supplied the final passes to
the key tries and scored the last of his side's six touchdowns as well
as kicking five goals to claim the prestigious Lance Todd Trophy, three
years after he was on the losing side in Huddersfield's Wembley defeat
by the Wolves.

The Rhinos fans must have feared a
repeat of their 30-6 mauling from 2010 when Warrington winger Joel
Monaghan opened the scoring just six minutes into the action.

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touching down: Warrington's Riley goes over for his try

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

Touch the sky: Try hero Riley celebrates with a personal dedication at Wembley

Smart offloads from Ben Harrison and
Chris Hill created an opening for scrum-half Richie Myler, who had the
vision to spot Monaghan in space out on the right flank and found him
with a pinpoint kick.

Hodgson's angled conversion made it
6-0 and they might have doubled their score had the full-back provided a
more accurate final pass to second rower Ben Westwood after piercing
the first line of defence.

But Leeds had already shown signs
that this was not going to be a walkover, with former England captain
Jamie Peacock setting a tremendous early example with two storming runs
through the heart of the Wolves defence.

Back-to-back penalties got the Rhinos
into the danger zone and substitute forward Ian Kirke took skipper
Kevin Sinfield's pass to barge past three defenders and stretch out of
the tackle to score his first try for 14 months.

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

Clash of the titans: Leeds' Ryan Bailey squares up to Warrington's Garreth Carvell

Sinfield levelled the scores with the
conversion, just before a torrential downpour, and edged his side in
front four minutes later with a penalty awarded for a punch by Paul Wood
on Carl Ablett.

The rain threatened to ruin the game,
with Warrington's Hill and Trent Waterhouse both spilling possession,
but a run of penalties against the Yorkshiremen helped produce another
momentum shift.

As the rain disappeared as quickly as
it had arrived, slick handling by Michael Monaghan and Myler got
Waterhouse into his stride and he proved unstoppable from 10 metres out.

Hodgson's second goal made it 12-8
but Sinfield pulled two points back with a second penalty on the stroke
of half-time and Leeds thought they had re-taken the lead early in the
second half.

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

Making a fist of it: Leeds' Ian Kirke scores their first try but it was not enough for the defeated Rhinos

When Hodgson lost possession in a
crunching tackle from Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai while attempting to
clear his line, second rower Brett Delaney picked up the loose ball and
touched down.

The video referee ruled out any foul
play but disallowed the try for a knock-on and Warrington made the most
of the let-off with two quickfire tries, with Hodgson quickly recovering
from the heavy blow to supply both final passes.

Leeds found themselves under
intolerable pressure after conceding successive goal-line drop-outs and
it told when Hodgson combined with Ryan Atkins to get winger Chris Riley
over on 49 minutes.

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Done and dusted: Warrington's Ryan Atkins scores their third try to put them on their way to a famous victory

Five minutes later, following another
drop-out, Warrington again attacked the Leeds right and Hodgson's long
pass enabled Atkins to go over.

The Wolves were oozing with
confidence by then and four minutes later substitute Tyrone McCarthy
went over for his side's fifth try after Westwood squeezed out a pass
from a tackle close to the line.

Briers put his side four scores in
front with a drop goal and Hodgson went through a tiring Leeds defence
for a deserved try, rendering later tries from Rhinos centre Kallum
Watkins little more than consolation.

Castleford 26 Warrington 40

Castleford 26 Warrington 40: Wolves run in seven tries to deny dogged Tigers

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UPDATED:

16:50 GMT, 22 July 2012

Warrington survived a superb second-half fightback from Castleford to hold on for a thrilling victory and cement second place in the Stobart Super League.

Trailing 34-0 in the 53rd minute, the Tigers rallied, scoring 26 unanswered points to give themselves a chance of an amazing comeback, but the Wolves were ultimately too strong and sealed the win with a late Stefan Ratchford try.

Warrington, who outscored their opponents seven tries to five in the match, were scintillating in attack in the first period and they grabbed the first points of the afternoon inside the opening two minutes.

Off and running: Ben Westwood scores Warrington Wolves first try

Off and running: Ben Westwood scores Warrington Wolves first try

After Tigers full-back Richard Owen dropped the ball inside his own half, the visitors took full advantage when Ben Westwood hit a fantastic line to go over unchallenged, Brett Hodgson adding the extras.

They doubled their lead soon after when Hodgson's cut-out ball was collected by Joel Monaghan, who strolled in for the simplest of finishes to put Tony Smith's side firmly in command.

The hosts then spurned a glorious chance to get back in the game, when Hodgson spilled a neat kick from Rangi Chase – who was making his first appearance since being suspended by the club – but the Tigers could not capitalise, Grant Millington losing possession just short of the Warrington line.

That missed opportunity was pounced upon by the Wolves, when Ryan Atkins was on the end of Richie Myler's superb break to further extend the visitors lead with a third try.

Westwood then grabbed his second of what was becoming a prolific afternoon for the visitors, again courtesy of some sublime work from Myler. Hodgson nailed his fourth conversion from as many attempts to give the Wolves a commanding 24-0 lead.

And there was still time for the Wolves to grab a fifth score before the interval, as Chris Riley produced a moment of individual magic, breaking away before sublimely beating Owen to go over.

The second half continued in similar fashion to the first, and after Westwood almost grabbed his hat-trick, David Solomona marked his return to the Warrington side by crashing over in trademark fashion to collect his first try of the season.

The Tigers finally got on the scoreboard soon after, when Nick Youngquest got on the end of a clever kick by Danny Orr to prevent the home side from the humility of a whitewash.

It then got even better for Ian Millward's men, as they scored a quickfire treble to give the home faithful something to cheer.

First, Rhys Williams scored a superb breakaway try against his parent club, evading the attention of Ryan Atkins to go the length of the field, before Chase got involved, creating arguably the try of the afternoon.

The England international danced his way around several Wolves defenders before providing an outrageous ball for Youngquest, who scrambled in at the corner for his second.

The home side were now in full flow, and they reduced the gap to just 14 points when Owen weaved his way through the Warrington defensive line, stepping his opposite number Hodgson to go in under the sticks with Orr adding the extras.

The points kept on coming for the Tigers, this time courtesy of Lee Mitchell, the forward spinning in the tackle and crashing over to further narrow the gap.

Warrington held their nerve however, and Ratchford's late breakaway effort sealed a crucial victory for Smith's men.

Salford 48 Warrington 24: Reds stun understrength Wolves

Salford 48 Warrington 24: Reds stun understrength Wolves

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UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 29 June 2012

Salford turned in a scintillating nine-try show to prevent the Wolves moving within a point of pacesetters Wigan at the top of the Stobart Super League.

The Reds stunned under-strength Warrington by sweeping into a 24-6 interval lead and Jodie Broughton, in the England squad to face the Exiles on Wednesday, led the way.

Broughton notched two tries, a feat matched by former Wolves star Vinnie Anderson, Danny Williams and Luke Patten.

Race to the line: Luke Patten scores for Salford City Reds

Race to the line: Luke Patten scores for Salford City Reds

Salford included four players called up for Wednesday's Origin clash with man of the match Matty Smith and Broughton in the England squad and Daniel Holdsworth and Joel Moon on Exiles duty.

But the Reds, who were pipped 24-20 at Warrington in May, were without injured forwards Shannan McPherson and Adam Sidlow – with Ryan Boyle stepping in at prop.

Warrington, with an eye on their cup semi-final against Huddersfield in a fortnight, welcomed back David Solomona for his first match of the season after a broken leg, with former Salford scrum-half Richie Myler and Rhys Evans also returning from lengthy absences.

Skipper Adrian Morley was back on the bench against his hometown club following eye surgery and Matty Blythe was drafted into the centre.

Warrington were missing Brett Hodgson, Simon Grix, Ryan Atkins, Joel and Michael Monaghan, Lee Briers, Garreth Carvell and Ben Westwood.

Salford, who had conceded at least 30 points in each of their last four matches, made a flying start with Williams taking a return pass from Sean Gleeson after a storming touchline burst to cross in the corner.

Daniel Holdsworth booted the touchline conversion before his 40-20 set up another attack for the Reds but Warrington held out.

The Wolves did their best to draw level but Ratchford lost possession after a promising move.

Salford extended the lead to 12-0 after 25 minutes when Mike Cooper was penalised for up-ending Steve Wild and Broughton showed electrifying pace to round Evans and go over in the corner.

Holdsworth again converted and the Reds made it 18-0 two minutes later with Anderson diving onto Smith's kick with Warrington's defence at sea.

The visitors' task became even tougher when Anderson slipped a gem of a pass to Luke Adamson for Luke Patten to sprint over on the half hour and send Salford into a 24-0 lead.

Warrington needed a stroke of luck to finally get on the scoresheet with Gareth O'Brien's crossfield kick rebounding off the post for Ratchford to touch down and make it 24-6.

Trent Waterhouse almost grabbed a second try from Ratchford's kick but Salford went in at the break with a commanding lead.

Solomona gave Warrington a scare on his comeback after going down in a three-man tackle – but he recovered after treatment.

The Wolves defence could not recover as quickly with Broughton grabbing his second try from Moon's pass to stretch the advantage to 28-6.

Smith cut inside Chris Bridge for the Reds' sixth try before Anderson forced his way over from dummy-half after another blistering move for his second touchdown to make it 40-6 after 50 minutes.

Williams had a try disallowed for a forward pass before Gleeson's unselfishness put the winger over to stretch the lead to 44-6.

Myler scampered over against his old club 12 minutes from time for Warrington's second try before Riley scored his 22nd touchdown of the campaign.

Ratchford put Blythe over for Warrington's third try in nine minutes to make the scoreline more respectable, before Patten crossed for Salford's ninth touchdown.

It was certainly not the performance Warrington boss Tony Smith wanted a fortnight before the semi-final date against his old club Huddersfield.

Catalan Dragons 22 Warrington 32: Wolves into Challenge Cup semi-final

Catalan 22 Warrington 32: Wolves slay Dragons to move into Challenge Cup semis

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UPDATED:

18:03 GMT, 13 May 2012

Relieved Tony Smith paid tribute to his side's desire after Warrington booked their place in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.

The 2009 and 2010 winners were thrashed 44-16 in Perpignan last month, but they avenged that loss by becoming the first English club to win at Stade Gilbert Brutus this year.

Smith said: 'The last time we were here there was a bad feeling when we left the pitch. We were determined not to feel that again.'

Chris Bridge's late try sealed a win that had looked far from certain after the Dragons launched a ferocious comeback.

Warrington led 20-6 at half-time with tries from Joel Monaghan, Brett Hodgson and Chris Riley. But the Dragons roared back, and only trailed by four points going into the final minutes.

However, Bridge read Jason Baitieri's intentions and galloped 50 metres after intercepting his pass.

Challenge Cup semi-final draw: Leeds v Wigan; Warrington v Huddersfield or London. Ties to be played July 14/15.