Magnificent McGuire bows out a champion as Rhinos claim Grand Final glory
The departing Danny McGuire ended his illustrious Leeds Rhinos career in fitting fashion with a man-of-the-match performance as Super League's most successful club claimed an eighth Grand Final victory by beating Castleford Tigers 24-6.
The free-scoring Tigers were a class apart for the bulk of 2017 as they cantered to the League Leaders' Shield, before edging out St Helens in a thrilling semi-final to move within one win of a first title in their 91-year history.
However, the Rhinos' greater experience told at a sodden Old Trafford as Castleford, shorn of key full-back Zak Hardaker after the former Leeds man was dropped this week for breaching club rules, fell victim to a ruthless display.
McGuire, in his last appearance before moving to Hull KR and having been man of the match in the 2015 showpiece, played a leading role - crossing twice, scoring two drop goals and also setting up one of Tom Briscoe's two tries in a contest that ultimately proved surprisingly one-sided.
As a result, both McGuire and the retiring Rob Burrow will depart Headingley as champions, just as Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Kylie Leuluai did two years earlier.
Leeds' fourth Grand Final triumph from as many visits to Old Trafford under Brian McDermott completed a stunning turnaround, after a shambolic 2016 campaign saw the Rhinos fail to make the top eight.
Although Cas turned down a simple shot at goal early on, the vastly experienced Rhinos were much the stronger in the first 30 minutes, with McGuire pulling the strings.
A precise kick from the veteran half-back set up the only try of the first half - Briscoe leaping high to beat Jy Hitchcox and Michael Shenton to the ball and dot down for a score Kallum Watkins converted.
With Castleford offering little as an attacking threat, Watkins looked to have extended the Rhinos' lead as he dived on to a McGuire grubber, only for the video referee to rule the England centre had not grounded the ball cleanly.
The Tigers finally threatened as the interval neared, but McGuire came to Leeds' rescue with a superb try-saving tackle on Greg Eden - playing at full-back in Hardaker's absence - before a potential score for Hitchcox was ruled out, this time for obstruction.
A scrappy end to the first half saw Briscoe denied a second try by the video referee, before Leeds inched further in front through a McGuire drop goal.
The Tigers' hopes were then dashed in the third quarter as McGuire scooted over for a deserved try of his own - after Greg Eden had spilled a high kick from Joel Moon - and Briscoe went over in the right corner following excellent work from outstanding full-back Jack Walker, who replaces Rhinos team-mate Stevie Ward the youngest winner of a Grand Final.
Victory for Leeds was a formality thereafter and Burrow entered the fray late on before McGuire capitalised on a Tigers fumble to snatch another try.
There was still time for McGuire to round off his dream evening with a second one-pointer, before Alex Foster's 80th-minute try at least saved Cas from being the first team to be held scoreless in a Grand Final.