Salford have beaten all the odds by making it to the Grand Final this year with one of the lowest budgets in the league. This sporting fairy tale has captured the imagination of Super League fans meaning that most if not all neutral fans are supporting the Red Devils. Having lost only four games all season, St Helens are favourites the win the title. Here are the reasons why Saints will write a Brothers Grimm ending for this Disney fairy tale.
Record breakers for a reason
The main reason for Saints winning on Saturday is that they have been by far and away the best team this season. They ended the regular season with only four defeats this season. They have lost three games in London and one game in the south of France meaning that they have not lost a game in the North of England all year. It’s a good job the Grand Final is held in Manchester. They have a menacing forward pack, fast athletic wingers, intelligent play makers and James Roby which will only result in one thing, victory.
Winning the forward battle
Lee Mossop, Gil Dudson and co have done a spectacular job this season at grinding out results. Last week they absolutely dominated Wigan’s youthful pack but the likes of Alex Walmsley and Luke Thompson are a totally different proposition to the inexperienced Oliver Partington and Liam Byrne. Salford were imprressive last week but Saints were a completely different level in their performance against Wigan the week before. Salford’s defence and line speed are going to have to be impeccable if they are going to stop the Saints forwards eating up metres.
Having a week off can either help or hinder a team. They can either come back to a game refreshed or be slightly rusty because of a lack of game time. St Helens showed that in their game against Wigan that it was definitely the former. Salford have played in three high intensity matches which means that they will be battle hardened but also fatigued. I think Saints’ fitness will have a massive effect on the game and they will run away with it in the last 20-25 minutes.
Justin Holbrook and the Bottlemen
Saturday’s game will be Holbrook’s last game before he leaves for his native homeland to coach Gold Coast Titans. He has a remarkable record at St Helens and will leave them with over 80% win record. Despite this he has yet to win a major trophy at the club, losing three semi-finals and one final. This has resulted in many fans labelling them ‘bottlers’. I think this will give the St Helens players extra incentive to get rid of this tag and also to give Holbrook a well deserved ending to his St Helens career.
Salford’s unlikely Grand Final appearance and Jackson Hastings winning Man of Steel has led to the media mainly focusing on them. Most articles in the mainstream media has been about Salford while St Helens have hardly been mentioned which in my opinion will suit them as being out the limelight completely takes the pressure of them.