SINCE the Super League competition began in 1996, only four teams have ever managed to win the Grand Final and one of those – Bradford Bulls – haven’t been in the top flight for a decade.
That being said, there have been contenders that almost secured the big prize over the course of the summer era, with some teams dominating the league only to be cut apart when it mattered most.
Here are five of the best Super League teams to never win the Grand Final.
5. Bradford Bulls – 1999
For Bradford fans, the memories of their ‘Golden Age’ will live long in their minds. The Bulls of the late 1990s and early 2000s were incredibe, but the West Yorkshire side should have added the 1999 Grand Final to their collection after topping the league by five points. The Bulls lost just four games from 30, thrashing St Helens in the play-off semi-finals, 40-4, before going down to the same team in a heartbreaking 8-6 defeat at Old Trafford. Even Henry Paul was awarded the Harry Sunderland Trophy for his performance in the final, but the Bulls will forever rue the 1999 season as one that definitely got away.
4. St Helens – 2005
It really is a mystery how the St Helens of 2006 managed to win the treble, but the 2005 side fell short in both the Super League play-offs and the Challenge Cup. The Merseyside club won 23 out of 28 games in 2005, but lost to eventual champions Bradford Bulls in the elimination play-off which was considered a big shock at the time, especially when considering that Saints had Man of Steel winner Jamie Lyon in their side. Of course, some people could argue that the 2005 season set the platform for 2006, but it really was one that got away.
3. Huddersfield Giants – 2013
Huddersfield Giants have had an interesting time in Super League over the years, battling relegation from time to time but also hitting the play-offs. However, let’s not forget that the West Yorkshire club was battling for silverware at the start of the 2010s. Under previous head coach Paul Anderson, the Giants won the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time in 2013 with Danny Brough winning the Man of Steel after a 281-point haul saw him deservedly claim the league’s best award. Huddersfield lost just six games all year, but the Giants faltered when it mattered most, exiting the play-offs at the semi-final stages.
2. Warrington Wolves – 2011
It still almost seems ridiculous that the Warrington Wolves have never won a Super League Grand Final despite making it to Old Trafford four times. But, it was this Tony Smith side of 2011 that perhaps should have clinched it despite only making it to the final four before being knocked out by the Leeds Rhinos, who won the title from fifth. Warrington, in 2011, scored 1072 points throughout the Super League season which is the third highest total in the summer game’s history. The Wolves sowed their own fate, choosing to play Leeds over the Wigan Warriors in the controversial ‘Club Call’ and went down to the Rhinos at home in a bitter battle.
1. Castleford Tigers – 2017
Who else could it be but the Castleford Tigers of 2017? It had been a whirlwind number of years under Daryl Powell after the ex-Featherstone Rovers boss took over midway through 2013. The Tigers had been building something special for a while, but 2017 was when it finally clicked with the likes of Luke Gale, Ben Roberts, Zak Hardaker and Paul McShane running riot. In fact, Castleford lost just five Super League games all year, finishing top for the first time in their history with an expectation that Powell’s men would storm to the Grand Final title at Old Trafford. Unfortunately for long-suffering Castleford fans, the Tigers saved their worst performance of the season for when it mattered most as Leeds stormed to a 24-6 triumph against the odds.
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