Late tries from Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins inspired Leeds as they claimed a dramatic 20-13 win over St Helens on Friday to set up a meeting with Wigan in next weekend’s Super League Grand Final.
Hall, who scored the decisive last-gasp try to help his side clinch the League Leaders Shield seven days ago was again the hero, twisting over for the key score before Watkins broke clear in the final play of the game.
For long stretches of the game it appeared that defending champions St Helens were headed back to Old Trafford for a rematch of last year’s final against Wigan.
James Roby and Mark Percival crossed for the visitors, but Zak Hardaker and Kevin Sinfield’s boot kept Leeds in touch.
And when Hall and Watkins struck in the closing stages, St Helens’ spirits were broken and Leeds were heading back to the grand final for the first time since 2012.
St Helens had in-form prop Alex Walmsley back from a two-match injury absence, but they made a nervy start as Jordan Turner spilled the kick off.
The defending champions regained their focus to score the game’s first try with Roby spinning out of two tackles to go over under the posts.
Luke Walsh, who missed St Helens’ run to the title last year through injury, added the extras for an early 6-0 lead.
After being on the back foot for the majority of the opening quarter, the Rhinos summoned a response in the 20th minute, Hardaker collecting Watkins’s offload to dive over.
Having held out impressively, St Helens regained the lead on the verge of the break when Walsh slotted over an opportunistic drop goal for a 9-8 lead.
Both sides had chances after the interval, Carl Ablett denied a score by the TMO, before Saints struck on the hour mark.
Joe Greenwood stole the ball from Hall and the visitors worked the overlap well on the right to put Percival over in the corner, but Walsh missed with the conversion to make it 13-8.
That left the door open for Leeds and Sinfield needed no second invitation, his magnificent kick setting up Hall to go over in the left corner.
And there was still time late on for Watkins to collect a loose ball and streak clear for the final score that sends the Rhinos to Manchester still very much in the hunt for the first treble in the club’s history.