Castleford 6-24 Leeds: Danny McGuire stars as Rhinos win eighth title
Last Updated: 08/10/17 10:36am
Danny McGuire produced a superb performance to guide Leeds to their eighth Grand final win with a 24-6 win over Castleford.
It was a fitting farewell to Leeds legends McGuire - who is of to Hull KR - and the retiring Rob Burrow with McGuire winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his man-of-the-match performance.
McGuire scored two tries and nailed two drop-goals with Tom Briscoe also grabbing two tries.
It was a disappointing end to Castleford's season, who finished 10 points clear of the Rhinos, but produced arguably their worst performance in the absence of the suspended Zak Hardaker and finished their best ever season with only the League Leaders' Shield to show for their efforts.
Castleford went into the game on the back of eight successive wins over their rivals, four of them this year including a 66-10 rout in round three at the Jungle - but the Rhinos again demonstrated their ability to rise to the big occasion, mastering the tricky conditions caused by steady drizzle throughout the game.
Leeds, with 42 Super League rings between them and their big guns firing, were also indebted to a superb effort by 18-year-old full-back Jack Walker, who became the youngest player to win a Grand Final - taking the record from Stevie Ward on only his 12th senior appearance.
Ward also played his part, just seven days after dislocating his shoulder, and will have caught the eye of England coach Wayne Bennett, watching on from Australia as he prepares to name his World Cup squad.
In the difficult conditions, Castleford's decision not to take early points from penalties within easy kicking range was a surprise and began to look bewildering as Adam Milner, Paul McShane and Eden coughed up the ball in prime attacking positions.
Leeds' handling was far superior and Briscoe, who looked bereft of confidence two months ago, illustrated their Joie de vivre when he leapt above Michael Shenton and Jy Hitchcox to touch down McGuire's lofted kick and open the scoring in the 11th minute.
Kallum Watkins added the goal and the Rhinos centre thought he had added another try six minutes later when he won the race to McGuire's stabbed kick only for video referee Phil Bentham to rule a knock-on.
As the Tigers gradually began to put their game together, full-back Greg Eden looked all on a certain tryscorer until McGuire managed to force a handling error as he raced for the line and substitute prop Grant Millington went close before being brought back for a forward pass.
Hitchcox was then denied a try for obstruction before the same ruling robbed Briscoe of a second touchdown and the only other score before half-time was a drop goal from McGuire right on the hooter.
Castleford would have settled for a 7-0 deficit but the game quickly went away from them after another error-riddled period early in the second half gave Leeds the impetus to seize total control.
When Eden failed to deal with Joel Moon's high kick, McGuire swooped to grab an opportunist try and soon afterwards Moon carved out an opening for Briscoe to score his second.
Watkins' second conversion made it 17-0 and McGuire added a touch of gloss to the victory when he swooped on a handling error by Mike McMeeken to score his second try.
Watkins kicked his third goal and McGuire slotted a second drop goal before former Leeds forward Alex Foster grabbed a consolation try for the Tigers two minutes from the end.