St Helens win a 4th successive Super League grand final
MANCHESTER, England (AP) — St Helens underlined its status as the most successful rugby league team in the Super League era with a fourth consecutive grand final triumph at Old Trafford on Saturday.
The defending champion’s 24-12 victory over Leeds in front of a crowd of 60,783 earned Saints a record ninth grand final win and enabled them to send Kristian Woolf out on a high as the first coach to win three successive grand finals.
Saints became the first team to win four in a row and will set their sights on Wigan’s pre-Super League record of seven successive title triumphs from 1990-96.
Leeds was second from the bottom of the table in April and produced an astonishing turnaround in fortunes to reach a 14th grand final but this was a game too far for Rohan Smith’s men.
The champions were boosted by the presence of loose forward Morgan Knowles after his club successfully overturned his two-match ban but he took a back seat as halfbacks Jack Welsby and Jonny Lomax ran the show after Ignatius Paasi and Matty Lees set a strong platform up front.
St Helens was well on its way to a 12th successive win over Leeds courtesy of the fastest try in a grand final and was good for its 12-0 lead before Leeds began a brief fightback with captain Kruise Leeming’s try on the stroke of halftime.
Saints man of the match Lomax opened up the Leeds defence to get Lees over for the opening try with a little over two minutes on the clock. Then fullback Jon Bennison won the race to Welsby’s grubber kick on the last tackle for 12-0 after 17 minutes.
The introduction of Leeming injected urgency into the Rhinos’ attack. Just before the break, Leeming took Smith’s pass and twisted out of the tackle from James Roby and Lees to score his side’s first try.
The deficit halved, the margin was back to 12 points five minutes into the second half when former Leeds favourite Konrad Hurrell displayed immense strength to stretch out of a four-man tackle and plant the ball on the line for Saints’ third try.
The fourth came when Welsby threaded a kick through the defence for centre Mark Percival.
Makinson’s goal kicks stretched their lead to 24-6 but Leeds ensured there would be no rout as they turned on the style in the final quarter, with Rhyse Martin finishing a break by winger Tom Briscoe.
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