Sheffield Eagles 19-12 Batley Bulldogs
Eagles hit back to retain title
Sheffield Eagles came from 12-0 down to break Batley's hearts on their maiden Grand Final appearance and become the first Championship club to retain their title with a 19-12 victory.
The Eagles looked down and out after being outplayed throughout the first half by John Kear's Bulldogs but they roared back to score 19 unanswered points in front of a spell-bound crowd of 6,374 at Leigh.
Winger Scott Turner scored two of Sheffield's four tries and Papua New Guinea centre Menzie Yere grabbed his 46th of the season as coach Mark Aston got the better of his old mentor Kear.
Batley, who have now lost nine matches in a row against Sheffield, had to come from behind with the aid of golden-point drop goals to get past former champions Leigh and Featherstone but this time they set the pace, showing nerves of steel on their big day.
Right winger Jonny Campbell, returning to the side from suspension, scored the only try of the first half, a superb solo effort from 40 metres out after 12 minutes, and Gareth Moore kicked the touchline conversion.
Moore, on his 100th career appearance, was wide with his first penalty attempt but succeeded with three others to put the Bulldogs into a deserved 12-0 interval lead.
There was no hint of a fightback and the game could have been over but for full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae's try-saving tackle to deny Batley stand-off Ben Black.
Sheffield's first try came against the run of play, Dominic Brambani's 40-20 kick setting up the position for Laulu-Togagae to get Turner over for his opening score on 55 minutes.
Brambani was unable to add the goal but the score visibly lifted the Eagles, who added three more tries in a nine-minute spell.
Second rower Matt Garside collected Brambani's kick to get Yere over and Turner swooped on Pat Walker's inch-perfect kick to score his second of the match.
With Brambani missing his third conversion attempt, the scores were locked at 12-12 but Laulu-Togagae's solo try on 70 minutes put Sheffield in front for the first time.
This time man of the match Brambani was on target with the conversion and Walker made sure of the win with a drop goal seven minutes from the end.