Leeds Rhinos claimed a thrilling 18-16 semi-final victory over Hull to ensure that long-serving half-backs Danny McGuire and Rob Burrow will get an Old Trafford farewell.
The Rhinos prevailed in a tense clash at Headingley to secure a 10th Grand Final appearance and set up a showdown with Castleford Tigers.
That will provide a fitting farewell for McGuire and Burrow but Friday's defeat signalled the end for retiring Hull captain Gareth Ellis and there was no fairytale ending for Mahe Fonua, who is returning to the NRL.
Not only a legend on the field both sides of the 🌎 , but genuinely one of the nicest and most respected..@gazellis12 enjoy retirement pal!👏🏼— Paul Sculthorpe MBE (@PScully13) September 29, 2017
Leeds raced into a 12-0 lead, Stevie Ward powering his way to the line in the first play.
Kallum Watkins added the conversion and he was also on target after hooker Matt Parcell had got substitute prop Anthony Mullally romping through.
The shell-shocked Ladbrokes Challenge Cup winners gradually worked their way into the game and Ellis proved unstoppable after charging onto Danny Houghton's pass.
Rhinos players form a guard of honour to clap our legends from the field one last time pic.twitter.com/CyUeUgrVxG— Leeds Rhinos (@leedsrhinos) September 29, 2017
Marc Sneyd added the goal to make it 12-6 at half-time and centre Jake Connor created a try for Fonua after the break.
Connor palmed the ball back from Sneyd's kick for second rower Sika Manu to score a try that put Hull in front for the first time , but Leeds picked themselves up and struck back when Liam Sutcliffe created a try from nothing with a weaving run to the line.
Watkins kept his nerve with the conversion to restore his side's advantage and the Rhinos clung on.
The Rhinos were forced to battle for their top-flight status after finishing in the bottom four in 2016 but their turnaround in fortunes was complete and coach Brian McDermott said: "The job is not done and, if we don't win next week it will hurt, but I think that's a huge achievement from the players who endured all sorts of ridicule."
"Things were written and said about them. We only added one bloke to the squad and for them to first off finish second and secure top-four with two games to go in itself shows what a character they've got, and to get through to the Grand Final is big."
McDermott almost brought ridicule on himself when he claimed his side could win the Grand Final shortly after they suffered a 66-10 hammering at Castleford in March.
"I believed it at the time," he said. "It wasn't a Hollywood moment, I believed we could do it.
Gutted isn't the word! Just wanna say thanks Stevie, Mahe and skip @gazellis12 it's been a honour and thanks for the memories! Fans 👏🏻👏🏻⚫️⚪️— Scott Taylor (@ScottTagTaylor) September 29, 2017
"Because of what's gone on over the last 18 months, I reckon my group has had more honest chats than any other team in Super League. We nearly got relegated and that level of honesty now far outweighs the quality that we come up with on game day."
Hull coach Lee Radford added: "We're obviously hugely disappointed not to be going to a Grand Final. We just fell short unfortunately.
"I can't knock the effort, it was phenomenal. Leeds started like an absolute house of fire - it was like a smack between the eyes in that first 30 minutes - so to show the grit that we did and still be in the game when lot of teams would have folded was outstanding."