Saints are back to back Super League Champions after an incredible 8-4 Grand Final win over arch rivals Wigan Warriors at the KCOM Stadium, after a breath taking last second try by Jack Welsby secured the win for Kristian Woolf's side.
It was a typical Saints vs Wigan derby in the opening ten minutes; fiery, aggressive and passionate. Saints made more ground and attacked the Wigan line throughout the opening exchanges, whilst keeping the Warriors in their own half. The retiring James Graham took a big hit to the ribs within the first five minutes, but battled on in his final game of a sparkling career.
Despite Saints’ pressure we were unable to take advantage, and it was Wigan who came closest to opening the score in the 28th minute as Zak Hardaker turned his man and went for the line, but a brilliant defensive effort from five of Kristian Woolf’s men held him up on the line.
Saints were awarded for their efforts on the hooter after a late hit from Smithies. Coote kicked the penalty to give Saints a slender but deserved 2-0 lead going into half time.
We began the second half as we did the first, dominating possession and we were nearly rewarded just over ten minutes into the second half as another one of our retiring Saints – Zeb Taia appeared to have touched the ball down, but he was deemed to have been offside from a kick.
Wigan began to crank up pressure of their own in a gripping Grand Final, and in the 66th minute, the Warriors took the lead through Jake Bibby who was unleashed on the right hand side to dive and go over in the corner on the back of a Saints handling error. Hardaker’s kick hit the post, leaving the score poised at 4-2 in favour of the Warriors.
Saints had to hit back and we got ourselves back on level terms in the 73rd minute. Jackson Hastings was penalised for a high tackle on Theo Fages and Coote made no mistake from the penalty, leaving it 4-4 with only minutes to go in the game.
The Warriors looked like they had the chance to win it two minutes from time after a penalty was awarded close to the half way line, but Hardaker’s kick fell short.
Then…. in a moment which will live long in the memories of rugby league fans across the world and be remembered in Super League folklore… with seconds left in the game, Tommy Makinson attempted a drop goal from close to 40 yards out which cannoned off the post, and bounced back into the field of play. Youngster Jack Welsby was quickest to respond and refused to give up on the chase. He pounced on the rebound before French could to touch down as the hooter sounded. Cue the chaotic scenes as the Saints players went crazy.
It went upstairs and was rightly given. Saints had retained our Super League crown in the most dramatic of circumstances. It was our eighth Super League crown and was the perfect sign off for James Graham and Zeb Taia who both hung up their boots on the back of another Grand Final winners ring.
The only disappointment? There was no Saints fans to witness it with us.
2020 SUPER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS!!! 🏆🏆🏆🏆#COYS pic.twitter.com/iMdyysDfic
— St.Helens R.F.C. (@Saints1890) November 27, 2020
Wigan 13: Bevan French, Jake Bibby, Zak Hardaker, Oliver Gildart, Joe Burgess, Tommy Leuluai, Jackson Hastings, Joe Bullock, Sam Powell, Brad Singleton, Willie Isa, Liam Farrell, Oliver Partington.
Interchanges: Tony Clubb, Joe Greenwood, Sean O’Loughlin, Morgan Smithies.
Tries: Bibby (66)
Saints 13: Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Jack Welsby, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Theo Fages, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, James Graham, Zeb Taia, James Bentley, Morgan Knowles.
Interchanges: Dominique Peyroux, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Matty Lees, Kyle Amor.
Tries: Welsby (80)
Penalties: Coote (40), (73)
Half time: 0-2
Full time: 4-8
Referee: Chris Kendall