Leeds Rhinos 12, Bradford Bulls 7: Relief was etched on Rhinos faces after this superb Senior Academy Champion-ship Grand Final at Headingley yesterday.

They have now won this event for seven successive seasons, but if they have ever been given a tougher decider than this I would be very surprised.

Although the Bulls beat the Rhinos 24-22 at Odsal in August, they had been thrashed 45-2 on their last visit to Headingley in May.

But the half-time score yesterday in front of an enthralled 3,180 was 1-0 to the Bulls, courtesy of a late drop goal by Chris Bridge.

Full back Nicky Saxton and second row Rob Parker had gone close for the Bulls in the first half, Peter Lupton, Dwayne Barker and Austin Buchanan doing likewise for the Rhinos, but the closest call of all was in the 21st minute, winger Matt Gardner needing three Bulls defenders - Bridge, Andy Smith and Jamie Langley - to force him into touch at the corner as he looked to power his way over from dummy half.

Also centre Stuart Reardon - Bradford's best player - was only denied by a fine cover tackle by prop Ewan Dowes.

A 30-metre Lupton penalty gave the Rhinos the lead in the 46th minute after Bulls prop Richard Moore had unceremoniously dumped Rob Burrow to the floor, and they made it 6-1 when an off-load by prop Tommy Gallagher brought a try for Damien Kennedy after only two minutes after the substitute had come on.

Just before that the Rhinos had lost substitute prop Nick Scruton with a dislocated ankle, and Reardon denied centre Andy Kirk a try with a great cover tackle.

Bridge landed a penalty after second row Victor Tordoff had been impeded at the play-the-ball, but the Rhinos looked to have wrapped matters up when stand-off Danny McGuire finally broke his shackles to go over with ten minutes left following another off-load by man of the match Gallagher.

Lupton's conversion made it 12-3. However, Reardon's deserved 40-metre try from Bridge's well-timed pass three minutes later kept the tension high right until the final whistle of a magnificent advert for under-19 rugby.