Super League Grand Final preview: St Helens vs Wigan Warriors
Date: Saturday 11th October
Venue: Old Trafford
St Helens 19 man squad:
2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Jordan Turner, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift, 6. Lance Hohaia, 8. Mose Masoe, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 15. Mark Flanagan, 16. Kyle Amor, 17. Paul Wellens, 18. Alex Walmsley, 22. Mark Percival, 26. Matty Dawson, 27. Greg Richards, 28. Luke Thompson.
Wigan Warriors 19 man squad:
1. Matty Bowen, 2. Josh Charnley, 5. Anthony Gelling, 6. Blake Green, 7. Matty Smith, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Michael McIlorum, 10. Ben Flower, 11. Joel Tomkins, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. Jack Hughes, 17. Dominic Crosby, 19. Sam Powell, 22. Eddy Pettybourne, 23. Dan Sarginson, 24. Tony Clubb, 25. John Bateman, 32. Joe Burgess.
Play-off Preliminary Final – Catalan Dragons (H), W 30-12
Play-off Qualifying Final – Castleford Tigers (H), W 41-0
Round 27 – Huddersfield Giants (A), L 17-16
Round 26 – Warrington Wolves (H), L 12-39
Round 25 – Leeds Rhinos (A), W 12-13
Play-off Preliminary Final – Warrington Wolves (H), W 16-12
Play-off Qualifying Final – Huddersfield Giants (H), W 57-4
Round 27 – Warrington Wolves (H), W 24-20
Round 26 – Leeds Rhinos (H), W 21-6
Round 25 – Widnes Vikings (A), L 24-10
The last time St Helens and Wigan Warriors met at Old Trafford they drew a crowd of almost 72,000 as the Warriors lifted the Super League trophy with a 22-10 victory.
That was the second highest attendance in Super League Grand Final history, only bettered by St Helens last Grand Final victory against Hull FC in 2006, as four years on the two meet at this stage in the competition for the third time.
St Helens won the first Grand Final meeting between the two way back in 2000 with a 29-16 win and will be looking to end their eight year wait to be crowned Super League Champions.
To do so they will have to topple the reigning Champions Wigan who fought back brilliantly in a brave display to complete the double against Warrington, as Blake Green typified their brave spirit by picking up the Man of the Match award in a 30-16 win despite his bad facial injury.
They have already had to hand over one of their trophies from last year’s double, as Leeds Rhinos won at Wembley to be crowned Challenge Cup winners, which will give them extra motivation to keep their hands on the Super League trophy for another year.
Wigan go into this game off the back of a last gasp 16-12 win at home to Warrington which ended the Wolves hopes of finally lifting the Super League Trophy for another year. Saints on the other hand looked comfortable as they ended Catalans fairy-tale play-off run with a 30-12 victory against the French outfit.
Nathan Brown is at the helm for his last ever game as St Helens coach as he returns to Australia for personal reasons, and a win at Old Trafford would be the perfect send off for the Aussie.
2014 has been one of the most exciting Super League seasons to date and Saturday marks the end of an era as we enter a new competition format from 2015 onwards, but there is no doubt that this clash of two Super League heavyweights will produce an incredible end to the licensing era.
James Roby vs Michael McIlorum
Roby and McIlorum have long been England’s top two hookers however they will not be representing their country in the Four Nations due to surgery which they have scheduled for the off-season. That means the pair will be ending their competitive year at Old Trafford and would like to do so on a high. They are two very different types of hooker however they can be equally as dangerous with Roby pulling the strings and controlling the games tempo and McIlorum bringing raw aggression to the middle where it is needed most. Roby is the match winner of the two but McIlorum is the man you want on your side if it gets tough.
Mose Masoe vs Ben Flower
Both teams have a lot of size in the middle of the pitch and the side that comes out on top in the arm wrestle could be the side that lifts the trophy after the hooter. Two men who can influence that are Mose Masoe and Ben Flower. Mose is a wrecking ball of a front rower who leaves defenders in his wake with almost every carry of the football. Ben has become an integral part of the Wigan side with his size and strength helping to give the men outside him a platform to work from. They will be eyeing each other up from the word go and their battle will definitely keep us entertained.
Tommy Makinson vs Joe Burgess
One got picked for England the other didn’t. Many would have been expecting Makinson to be on the plane down under for the Four Nations but his seat will go to his opposite number on Saturday, Joe Burgess. The 19-year-old has burst onto the scene this year taking everyone by surprise and along with Makinson they have been responsible for some of the best tries this season. Tommy will have a point to prove and the England squad selection has given the perfect backdrop for a battle of two of the league’s best wingers.
Previous Meetings This Season
The away side came out on top in both league meetings between these sides this year as Wigan won the Good Friday derby clash 14-33 with Sean O’Loughlin tearing Saints apart. They got their revenge at the DW in Round 18 though as Tommy Makinson scored twice in a 12-16 win. With it one-a-piece Old Trafford will provide the perfect decider in a winner takes all clash.
This is possibly the hardest game of the year to call but I fancy Saints to end their wait for the Super League Trophy in a close contest. St Helens by 1-5 points.
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