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GRAND FINAL PREVIEW | St Helens vs Salford Red Devils

The stage is set, Old Trafford plays host for the Grand Final as St Helens face off against the Salford Red Devils.

 

TEAM FORM GUIDE

St Helens

A near perfect season from the Saints would be capped off if they are able to lift the trophy. They won the league leaders shield by 16 points and have been without a doubt the best side in the competition. However, they are beatable as they’ve lost four games all year, including the Challenge Cup final.

Salford Red Devils

It has been a remarkable season for Ian Watson’s side and they will be looking to complete a unbelievable season. Finishing third in the regular season, the Red Devils were expected to be far closer to relegation than a night at Old Trafford. Victory away at Wigan put them into serious reckoning to defeat the Saints.

 

SQUAD NEWS

St Helens

Justin Holbrook names an unchanged side in his finally game in charge of the Merseyside club.

This means all their star names such as Jonny Lomax and Lachlan Coote just to name a few are included.

St Helens 19-man squad: Lomax, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Ashworth, Smith, Bentley, Coote

Salford Red Devils

Just like their opposition, Salford also name an unchanged side.

Logan Tomkins is set to make his 200th career appearance as he steps out at Old Trafford

Salford Red Devils 19-man squad: Evalds, Welham, Bibby, Mossop, Wood, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke, McCarthy, Tomkins, Sio, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Johnson

 

HEAD TO HEAD

The Saints have been dominant this year, however they did nearly slip to a defeat at home against Salford. Inside the final minute, the vistors lead 30-26, however a James Bentley try allowed Lachlan Coote to kick the winning points. Coote had also crossed for a hat-trick earlier in the match as well as two from Tommy Makinson.

The other meeting between these sides came back in February at the AJ Bell Stadium. The 28-4 win for Saints gave them an early lead at the top of the league. In tough conditions, they raced into a 16-0 lead before the break. James Roby crossed for a second in the second half and Regan Grace also scored, these came either side of a Derrell Olpherts try.

 

KEY BATTLE

Jonny Lomax (St Helens) v Jackson Hastings (Salford Red Devils)

The key battle between the sides will be in the half-back role and both players have had a major impact on their sides respective seasons.

Jonny Lomax has been one of many key players for the Saints. Since making his debut in 2009, he has made 217 appearances for the Reds since. During his time at the Saints he has been a part of two of their four Grand Final appearances through this period. However, he did miss the Saints’ last win back in 2014 due to injury.  With 16 tries and 21 assists, he has had a pivotal role in the Saints side. He links well with players such as Coote and his attacking kicks threaten sides defences.

Unsurprisingly Jackson Hastings was rewarded on Sunday evening with the Man of Steel award. There is a very strong chance that he will be named the winner of the Harry Sunderland trophy, if Salford are successful. He may have only score half of what Lomax has, however with 36 assists he is well ahead and it is easy to see why he has such a key role. Jinking away from defenders, he has terrorised defences all season and is arguably the most influential player in both this Salford side and the league. Niall Evalds and Hastings both support breaks made, which allows them to play a more attacking style. A huge player looking to bow out with his clubs first major honour in over 40 years.

 

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: Saturday October 12th
Venue: Old Trafford
Kick-off: 6:00 PM
Referee: Chris Kendall

 

WHO WILL WIN?

I don’t think many people would have predicted this final before a ball was kicked in February. Saints have been dominant this season, however have failed in their most important game to date. Historically they have struggled in the Grand Final winning five and losing five, but the five defeats were successive from 2007-2011. Salford have shocked everybody and wouldn’t be a surprise to win. They have gelled well and despite being the underdog, I think they will over turn the Saints in a close fought match.

 

 

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