McClennan cautious over final hopes - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McClennan cautious over final hopes

By Nick Clowes 08/08/2010 11:43:44 AM Comments (0)

Coach Brian McClennan saluted his triumphant Leeds Rhinos after they reached the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, but refused to talk up their chances of lifting the trophy just yet.

Leeds narrowly edged a classic semi-final by beating St Helens 32-28 at Huddersfield's Galpharm Stadium with England halfback Danny McGuire scoring the winning try seven minutes from time.

Leeds, who have beaten St Helens in the last three Super League Grand Finals, have not won the Challenge Cup since 1999.

"We're in the final so it's a 50-50 chance - nothing more nothing less," said former New Zealand coach McClennan.

"This club hasn't had a great deal to shout about in the last few years in this competition so we were determined to keep quiet before this.

"That won't change in the run-up to the final. Winning this semi means everything to me and the players though - we were all desperate to get to Wembley and we're delighted we're there.

"I was very nervous towards the end because Saints were giving it everything - they were missing Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce but they are still a very strong side.

"We settled down a lot in the second half and I think that helped us - we played a lot better."

Leeds raced to an 8-0 lead following Ryan Hall's early try but 18 unanswered points for the Saints put them in control at the break.

Paul Wellens, Keiron Cunningham and ex-New Zealand Warriors centre Francis Meli all crossed the whitewash before the hooter but Hall reduced the deficit in the first minute of the second half.

Ex-Newcastle centre Matt Gidley - back in the Saints team after a leg injury - saw them stretch ahead before McGuire and Brent Webb put them back in front.

James Graham thought he had won it for Saints in the 71st minute but McGuire was to have the last word as he raced clear of the defence and sealed the victory for Leeds.

St Helens coach Mick Potter - who will leave the Knowsley Road side at the end of the season to join Bradford Bulls - said: "I'm still very proud of my players.

"They gave it everything from whistle one to the end and I really couldn't have asked any more of them.

"We lost Leon Pryce on Friday with a neck injury but we can't use that as an excuse - we'll never know if he would have made a difference now.

"We were beaten by a better team and we can't have any arguments - it was a fantastic game and we'll just have to move on.

"We'll let the players settle a bit before bringing them back in and telling them there is still a Super League title to fight for.

"We were chasing two trophies - now we're just chasing one - we'll have to pick ourselves up and not let it get us down."

Leeds will face either Warrington or Catalans Dragons, who meet in Widnes on Sunday, in the final.

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