Leeds Rhinos face Melbourne Storm in the World Club Challenge final tomorrow in what will be the fourth meeting between the two in this fixture since 2008.
With the match fast approaching, we take a look at all seven of the Rhinos’ previous World Club Challenge final appearances, where they have won three and lost four.
February 21, 2016 – Leeds Rhinos 4 North Queensland Cowboys 38 (Headingley Stadium):
In the first meeting between these two sides since the World Club Championship tournament all the way back in 1997, the Rhinos were comfortably beaten by a strong Cowboys second-half performance.
The score had been 4-4 at half-time, but two tries in the 10 minutes after the re-start were followed by another three in the 10 after the hour-mark as the game turned into a rout.
Mitch Garbutt was later red carded for Leeds after striking James Tomou, but by that point – five tries down – hope of winning the game had all but gone.
February 22, 2013 – Leeds Rhinos 14 Melbourne Storm 18 (Headingley Stadium)
This tight game was Rhinos’ fifth World Club Challenge final in six years.
Tries from Ryan Hall and Jamie Jones-Buchanan, and six points from the boot of Kevin Sinfield, weren’t enough to keep the Melbourne Storm at bay.
“It took so much out of us to try and break them down that we didn’t take our chances at the other end,” coach Brian McDermott said after the game.
“This isn’t a ‘never mind’ feeling and I don’t feel like smiling,” he added, “We’re not far off one of the NRL’s best teams but this will take a while to get over.”
February 17, 2012 – Leeds Rhinos 26 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12 (Headingley Stadium)
Ryan Hall’s 95-metre intercept try was the highlight of a game that saw Leeds equal Bradford Bulls’ record of three World Club Challenge wins.
Hall scored two in the victory, joined by Ben Jones-Bishop, Carl Ablett, and a Kallum Watkins try that opened the scoring but could well have been pulled back for a forward pass.
Leeds saw their 16-6 half-time lead pulled back to a dangerous looking 16-12, and Brian McDermott – who became only the second British coach to take the title – seemed relieved after the game, saying: “There was a period in the second half where I thought we’d gone.”
“Sometimes it looked as scruffy as anything,” he added, “but it was brave and courageous and all those sorts of words.”
February 28, 2010 – Leeds Rhinos 10 Melbourne Storm 18 (Elland Road)
Though Leeds lost this match, Melbourne Storm were stripped of their title in the April of that year, after revelations about illegal payments to players that breached NRL salary cap rules.
Leeds chose not to try and claim the title by default, but had been close to winning it by on-field means, having scored the game’s first try through Danny McGuire.
However, tries from Luke MacDougall and Anthony Quinn, as well as ten points from man of the match Cameron Smith, gave the Storm the victory.
March 1, 2009 – Leeds Rhinos 20 Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28 (Elland Road)
Injury and ill-discipline hurt the Rhinos, with Rob Burrow going off injured early on and Jamie Peacock put in the sin-bin after a punch-up that sparked a mass brawl.
Manly scored two tries in the period of time that Peacock (and his Australian fighting partner, prop Josh Perry) were off the pitch.
The dominance continued, with Manly extending their lead to 22-4 in the second half, before the Rhinos rallied with late tries from James Jones-Buchanan, Ryan Hall, and Keith Senior, to keep the final scoreline respectable.
February 29, 2008 – Leeds Rhinos 11 Melbourne Storm 4 (Elland Road)
Kevin Sinfield’s kicking was the difference in what was the fifth year in a row that the English side had beaten their Australian counterparts in the Challenge final.
Melbourne were without several key players, but that did not mean that it was easy for Leeds, with an injury of their own in Danny McGuire in the first half and Clinton Toopi in the second.
It was, and still is, the lowest scoring World Club Challenge final since the competition began officially in 1989.
February 4, 2005 – Leeds Rhinos 39 Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 32 (Elland Road)
Leeds’ first appearance in the Challenge final was an action-packed thriller, the highest scoring final in World Club Challenge history.
The game could have been won by a far wider margin given that the Rhinos were ahead 38-12 shortly into the second half.
The Bulldogs scored their final try, to reduce the deficit to six, in the last ten minutes to set up a tense finale.
All seven tries for the Rhinos were scored by different players: Chev Walker, Mark Calderwood, Danny McGuire, Willie Poaching, Rob Burrow, Richard Mathers, and Jamie Jones-Buchanan all touching down.