Leeds Rhinos will be looking to complete a remarkable season with success in Saturday's Grand Final
James Pearson looks at whether lightning can strike twice for the Leeds Rhinos in Manchester.
Last Updated: 04/10/12 11:57am
The Rhinos were at one stage in danger of missing out on the top eight completely only to finish fifth and become the first team to win the title from such a lowly league placing.
Leeds did not want the pattern of the season to be the blueprint for the future and set out in 2012 to improve their consistency and challenge for the League Leaders' Shield.
The plan for the Rhinos did not go to script. The season began confidently enough with a thrilling 26-12 success over the NRL Grand Final winners at Headingley.
However, the victory proved to be a rare bright spark in an indifferent first half of the campaign with Leeds losing to the likes of St Helens (twice), Bradford, Huddersfield and Hull FC all before the end of May.
Their low point came at the start of June when the Wigan Warriors embarrassed Leeds 50-8 at Headingley, a sign that seemed to signal another title charge would not be in the offing.
Leeds' final outing of the campaign could not have gone any worse after suffering a 48-24 defeat to 12-man Huddersfield, a game that could have given the club impetus ahead of the play-offs.
Even Wakefield were being tipped to upset the champions in the first round, but a late flurry of tries eventually saw Leeds run out 42-20 winners over Richard Agar's plucky side.
That was where their play-off adventure was expected to end with a trip to the Catalan Dragons in the offing. In the corresponding regular season fixture they lost 38-34 prior to August's Challenge Cup final defeat to Warrington.
A courageous and improbable 27-20 success in Perpignan led to last Friday's even more remarkable 13-12 win at the DW Stadium against a team which deservedly topped the Super League ladder.
The only surprise at Old Trafford is the absence of St Helens, the team which Leeds have beaten on four straight occasions at the Theatre of Dreams (2007-2011).
Warrington exacted revenge on St Helens for their play-off win at the Halliwell Jones Stadium in the earlier rounds with a superb 36-18 success at the impressive Langtree Park.
The Wolves have proved something of a bogey team for the Rhinos with two wins from three this season, including their Challenge Cup success at Wembley in August.
However, Leeds are at their most dangerous and it is almost impossible to call who will lift the trophy on Saturday evening in Manchester, although one thing that is guaranteed is a mouth-watering clash.
Will Leeds make it five title successes in six years or will it be Warrington's year and Tony Smith's men who emerge with an elusive double?
Catch all the action live on Sky Sports HD1 from 5.30pm.