The Betfred Super League comes to a close on Saturday night at The Theatre of Dreams, as Castleford Tigers take on Leeds Rhinos to see who will be crowned Champions. Castleford will make their first ever appearance in a Grand Final, while Leeds show veteran status, this will be their 10th appearance in the final.
The tie shows to be a fair one, as first place take on second in the league, on paper the Tigers and the Rhinos have been the top two teams this year. The reality is that Castleford finished the season 10 points better off than Leeds, helping them to a League Leaders Shield. Leeds are well practised in this stadium and in this prestigious event, though, so it is lining up to be a tasty tie between the West Yorkshire rivals.
The Road to the Final
Castleford Tigers: 40pts. 391 points difference. Top of the league. Beat St Helens in a dramatic Golden Point Semi-Final to book their place at Old Trafford.
Leeds Rhinos: 30pts. 76 points difference. Second in the league. Beat Hull FC with a Kallum Watkins conversion in the Semi Final.
Story of the Final
There are underlying stories for both sides going into the final. For Castleford not only is it their first ever Grand Final, but star man Luke Gale will feature, having overcome a quick turnaround from an appendix operation and being named Man of Steel on Tuesday evening.
For Leeds, it’s the chance for the perfect send off for skipper Danny McGuire and fan favourite Rob Burrow. The captain joined the club at the age of 12 and will bid a fond farewell to his beloved Rhinos, bowing out in what is sure to be a ferocious final.
Castleford have been an unstoppable force this season, which has shown in their record of 20 wins and only 3 losses this year. Leeds have only won 15 games this season, having lost 8 in the campaign. Castleford also have an impressive hold over the Rhinos having won each of their last eight meetings over a two-year period! If anyone can shake the woes on the big stage though, it would be Leeds. The Rhinos have won 7 of their 9 previous Grand Final appearances, showing that they will be a tough prospect on one of the biggest stages in Club Rugby League.
With the event closing in on a sell-out capacity crowd, it looks like the whole of West Yorkshire could be having a day trip to Manchester. But how will the teams line up?
Castleford bring in back-rower Oliver Holmes and Jy Hitchcox, who could feature in place of Zak Hardaker, who is unnamed in the Tigers side after a ‘breach of club rules’.
Leeds Rhinos have named Stevie Ward in their 19-man squad, despite dislocating a shoulder in Friday’s semi-final win against Hull FC, meaning Leeds head out the same squad as the semi-final.
Cook, Eden, Foster, Gale, Hitchcox, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Monaghan, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Springer, Webster.
Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Moon, Hall, McGuire, Burrow, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Ward, Sutcliffe, Singleton, Garbutt, Keinhorst, Ferres, Mullally, Walker.
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester.
Date: Saturday 7th October.
Kick Off: 6:00pm GMT
Referee: James Child
Touch Judges: Chris Kendall, Mark Craven
Video Referee: Phil Bentham