The first Super League Grand Final took place at Old Trafford in 1998 in front of 43,533. Since then it has gone from strength to strength and it sees as one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar.
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The Grand Final sees the two best teams in Super League battle it out at the Theatre of Dreams to be crowned champions. The format has been criticised over the years, with many people not understanding how you can call yourself a champion without winning the league. I suppose it’s the same as playing in the Champions League without actually being a champion. Anyway, that doesn’t matter. This format works and it will not be changing any time soon.
Wigan won the first ever Grand Final when they defeated Leeds Rhinos 10-4. The Warriors have since won it four more times to take their tally to five. Leeds Rhinos are the most successful team since the Grand Final was introduced, they have won the trophy eight times. St Helens are next in line with six Grand Final wins. They have won the Super League on seven occasions in total, but their victory in 1996 was before the Grand Final format came to life.
Here, we are going to go over the best every Grand Final matches from 1998.
5. Wigan Warriors 10-4 Leeds Rhinos – 1998 Grand Final
This was the first ever Grand Final, so it always be a special occasion. No-one knew what to expect, and I suppose even the most pro-rugby league fan didn’t really believe the concept would still be around in 2020.
Over 40,000 people were in attendance that day as the Warriors came from behind to win their first ever Super League title. The Rhinos took the lead with Richie Blackmore crossing over, but Wigan hit back with a fine solo effort from Jason Robinson as the Warriors led 6-4 at half-time.
Two second-half penalties from Wigan skipper Andy Farrell saw them lift the Super League trophy in the pouring rain.
4. Leeds 16-8 Bradford Bulls – 2004 Grand Final
Leeds have featured in 10 Grand Finals over the years and they are here again. This was the first time they had reached the final since the first ever one in 1998.
The Rhinos had not been crowned champions since winning the league back in 1972. Their first Super League title win was a sweet one as they turned over fierce rivals and defending champions Bradford Bulls.
This was a tight, entertaining affair and was in the balance right up until the final hooter. Leeds were leading 10-8 heading into the last five minutes, then up popped Danny McGuire to cross over for a try and end their 32-year wait for a league title.
3. Wigan Warriors 30-16 Warrington Wolves – 2013 Grand Final
This Grand Final witnessed one of the greatest ever comebacks. Warrington raced into a 16-0 lead with Joel Monaghan, Simon Grix and Ben Westwood all crossing for tries to put the Wolves in full control.
The Wolves were dominating Wigan in every department, but an injury to Monaghan and a try from Darrell Goulding before the break seemed to change this game.
Wigan came out like a different team. They did not concede a single point in the second half with Michael McIlorum, Josh Charnley, Blake Green and Pat Richards all going over as the Warriors capped off a great season with the Super League Grand Final and the Challenge Cup.
2. Leeds Rhinos 22-20 Wigan Warriors – 2015 Grand Final
The outcome of the 2015 Grand Final will always remain special to Leeds fans as it saw them win the treble of the Super League, League Leaders Shield and Challenge Cup for the first time in their history.
This game was a high-intense affair with Leeds looking very comfortable with a 16-6 lead thanks to two first-half tries from Danny McGuire and on from Joel Moon. The Warriors looked a beaten side after 40 minutes and defeat looked inevitable.
Just like in 2013, the Warriors came out fighting and scored they were soon back in this game and in front. Dom Manfredi and Matty Bowen scored quick-fire tries to put the Warriors 18-16 ahead. Bowen then opted to take the two points on offer from a penalty to extend their lead to four rather than going for the try.
The decision to take the two came back to haunt the Warriors as Josh Walters collected a high kick to score the winning try and secure an amazing treble.
1. St Helens 19-18 Bradford Bulls – 2002 Grand Final
This one will live in the memory banks for many years to come, and not because of how the winning points came about. The main talking point came after that.
Sean Long’s last second drop goal was good enough to win any Grand Final, but no one could have expected what happened next. Bradford tried a short kick-off to get one last chance with the ball to take the game to extra-time. Saints captain Chris Joynt recovered the ball and instead of taking the tackle, he hit the ground with all the Bradford players screaming for a penalty for a voluntary tackle.
Referee Russell Smith opted to wave play on and Saints won the Grand Final. The scenes of a fuming James Lowes screaming at the referee will never be forgotten.