Following on from Leeds Rhinos’ Golden Generation piece, Last Word on Rugby decide to look back at the World Club Challenge titles they won during that period and the few where they fell short.
World Club Challenge Triumphs
Canterbury Bulldogs – 2005
Following their 2004 Grand Final victory, the Rhinos earned a place in the following year’s World Club Challenge against the NRL premiers Canterbury Bulldogs.
The match took place at Elland Road rather than Leeds’ Headingley home and over 37,000 fans saw the highest-scoring match in the competition’s history.
A maiden series victory was effectively sealed in a first-half display which saw the Rhinos lead by 20 points after five tries including a superb solo effort by Danny McGuire.
Canterbury’s fate was confirmed when Richard Mathers and Jamie Jones-Buchanan crossed with the Bulldogs’s four late tries not enough as the English champions held on for a 39-32 win.
Melbourne Storm – 2008
A second title came in 2008, again at Elland Road but a low-scoring affair in contrast to three years earlier.
Played just a week before their NRL title defence, Melbourne Storm were shorn of star players including Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis.
Despite this they struck first through Ryan Hoffmann’s try but Scott Donald’s converted reply and a Kevin Sinfield penalty gave the English side a half-time lead.
In terrible conditions, Sinfield ensured a fifth successive win for the English sides with his second penalty and a drop-goal confirming an 11-4 victory for the Leeds Rhinos.
Manly Sea Eagles – 2012
After eight-point defeats to Manly and Melbourne in their next two World Club Challenge series, the Leeds Rhinos regained their title in 2012.
They got revenge over the Sea Eagles in a decider played at Headingley and another strong opening period proved decisive.
Kallum Watkins grabbed the first points, after being supplied by Brent Webb and then Ryan Hall intercepted a Brett Stewart pass to race 80 metres.
Stewart made amends by dashing over for his own four-pointer but Hall collected a high Sinfield crossfield kick as Leeds led 16-8 at the interval.
Early in the second-half Daly Cherry-Evans found his way over and Jamie Lyon’s conversion reduced the deficit to four points.
However the Rhinos clinched it when Ben Jones-Bishop crossed with Carl Ablett’s late score rubber stamping a 26-12 victory and a third triumph for the Headingley side.
Further losses in the showpiece
Due to their Super League title success Leeds have also been involved in the annual inter-hemisphere match in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018.
However, they were not successful in any of these encounters losing to Manly, Melbourne and North Queensland.
In 2009 they were defeated narrowly by the Sea Eagles and lost again by eight points to the Storm the following year although the Australian side were stripped of the title due to salary cap breaches.
After their 2012 victory, the Headingley outfit fell short against Melbourne for a second time the following year suffering an 18-14 loss.
Their next defeat came at the hands of the Cowboys, as despite having won the treble in 2015, by the time they faced their Australian counterparts they had seen Kevin Sinfield, Kylie Leuluai and Jamie Peacock retire.
On a disappointing night at Headingley, the Super League Champions were comfortably beaten 38-4.
In their most recent World Club Challenge encounter, they played the match in Australia for their maiden visit, the first time since 2014 that an NRL side had hosted the showpiece.
Once again up against the Storm, Leeds lost by the same score as two years previous, albeit unsurprisingly as this was during a run which has seen the NRL side triumph in seven of the last eight meetings.
“Main photo credit”