LEEDS Rhinos legend Rob Burrow admits the squad’s breathtaking heroics to secure the League Leaders’ Shield was the “best” finish to a game he had ever witnessed.
The former Great Britain star returned from injury to help Leeds earn a 20-16 victory at Huddersfield Giants on Friday night and, subsequently, finish top for the first time since 2009.
However, those are only the bare details; Leeds were 16-8 down in the 73rd minute before an incredible chain of events culminated in Ryan Hall scoring a try with the final play of the game to actually deliver a win.Kevin Sinfield’s 78th minute penalty had levelled the match at 16-16, a result which, though not preventing Wigan Warriors claiming the League Leaders’ Shield, would guarantee them second place and a home semi-final tie.
As a helicopter hovered near Wigan, where the Warriors were handsomely defeating Castleford, waiting to land and deliver the silverware, some Leeds players looked like they couldn’t believe Sinfield had been told to go for the two points.
Burrow, who has won six Grand Finals, two Challenge Cups and three World Club Challenges with Leeds, admitted: “When you are out there, I know I was thinking ‘we need the win and we can’t be drawing.’ But then I did realise obviously a point would see us get the home tie so it was smartness to do that.
“Yet out there I was working out what we needed to get top.
“And then it became the best finish I’ve ever been involved with. I can’t think of one in my career (better) and I’ve played a lot of games.
“It just changed like that… We were eight points behind with six minutes to go, going for the goal and thinking we needed the home tie.
“I’ve never had so much going on in my head…. it was just amazing. It’s a crazy game isn’t it?”
Burrow, who turned 33 on Saturday, knows the job is not yet done, however, given they face defending champions St Helens at Headingley in Friday’s semi-final.
“It was amazing to get the win but we’re not getting carried away,” said the hooker, as Leeds prospered at John Smith’s Stadium for the first time since 2011 and condemned Giants to a third-place finish.
“The League Leaders’ Shield was one of our goals but the whole win at Huddersfield and to get a victory like that is fantastic, too.
“They are a great team and to win the League Leaders’ Shield there as well is something special.
“Huddersfield were outstanding in defence and I thought we defended really well, too. It was that sort of match – it was a play-off game and that could even have been the final and rated as a good final.”
Fellow veteran Danny McGuire came up with the creativity on the hooter, his delicate chip from his own half setting up Hall, the England winger who raced in for his 200th try in Leeds colours.
Burrow added: “Good players are consistent at being good in big games. We have a plethora of players who know how to act in these sorts of situations.”