Rhinos clinch Grand Final return by edging Hull

Leeds Rhinos booked a place in the Super League Grand Final by edging past Hull FC 18-16 in a tense semi-final at Headingley, putting a dismal 2016 firmly behind them.

The Rhinos claimed the treble in 2015 but then mounted a woeful defence of their Super League crown and were consigned to the Qualifiers in order to retain their top-flight status.

However, 12 months on their fortunes have changed dramatically once again, with Liam Sutcliffe's excellent solo effort setting up a date with Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford and gaining revenge for a Challenge Cup semi-final defeat suffered at the hands of Hull in July.

Stevie Ward got Leeds off to a great start when he kept the ball alive with three defenders trying to bring him down, stretching to touch down on the line in the sixth minute.

Interchange Anthony Mullally extended their lead when he was found in space by Danny McGuire - the Rhinos icon ensuring his and veteran team-mate Rob Burrow's final game for the club will take place in Manchester - and crossed unopposed.

Man of Steel nominee Albert Kelly was held up in the in-goal area before Gareth Ellis got Hull off the mark in what would prove to be his last outing before retirement.

Mahe Fonua - who will return to the NRL with Wests Tigers next season - reduced the deficit with the first score of the second half and Sika Manu put the visitors ahead for the first time when Jake Connor pushed Marc Sneyd's cross-kick back to him in the 62nd minute.

But Sutcliffe sent Headingley wild when he took Ryan Hall's pass and produced a sensational step to get past Jamie Shaul to level the match, with Kallum Watkins' third successful conversion consigning Hull to a second semi-final loss in as many years.

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