Catalans Dragons 10 St Helens 12: Saints make it a three-peat in classic final
St Helens retained their Betfred Super League title with a thrilling 12-10 win over league leaders Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford tonight.
It was their record-equalling third successive Grand Final victory and Super League’s long wait for a fifth name on the trophy will continue into an 18th season.
The showdown between the competition’s top two sides lived up to its billing, with the result in the balance right to the end.
In front of a crowd of 45,177, Catalans hung on in the first half to go in at the break only two points behind.
Saints winger Tommy Makinson made unwanted history soon after the interval when he became the first player to be sin-binned in a Grand Final.
He was maybe fortunate not to concede a penalty try in the process, but Catalans scored soon afterwards and were in front until 15 minutes from the end.
The Harry Sunderland award - as man of the match - went to centre Kevin Naiqama, who scored both Saints' tries in his last game for the club.
The trophy was presented by Leeds Rhinos legend Rob Burrow and his daughter Macy.
James Maloney became the oldest man to score in a Grand Final - beating Kevin Sinfield’s record - when he landed an offside penalty after seven minutes, having charged down Lachlan Coote’s kick to give Catalans possession in Saints’ half for the first time.
Tommy Makinson - twice - and Naiqama had already gone close for Saints and they were behind for less than five minutes.
It was an outstanding try, scored by Naiqama who stepped past Samisoni Langi and managed to get the ball down through Sam Tomkinas’ attempted tackle, after Jonny Lomax and Lachlan Coote had handled across the line.
That was in the set from Saints’ first penalty and at the end of the opening quarter, they received three more in succession and Coote took the two from the last of those - a high tackle by Ben Garcia on Lomax - to make it 6-2.
It took Catalans until the 25th minute to mount their first real attack, but they had to settle for another two points from Maloney’s boot after Saints had been caught offside in front of their posts.
That completed the first half scoring, though Saints went close in the final minute through Regan Grace, but he was tackled into touch by Tom Davies and Dean Whare.
Makinson was yellow carded five minutes into the second half after a high tackle on Fouad Yaha, who had taken Josh Drinkwater’s kick a few metres out.
Referee Liam Moore handed the decision on to video assistant James Child, who decided against awarding a penalty try.
But Drinkwater landed a 40-20 soon afterwards and from that, his kicked was batted by Davies to Mike McMeeken and he touched out for a try which Maloney converted off the touchline.
Catalans were ahead until the 65th minute when Lomax’s kick was read perfectly by Naiqama who gathered and slid over for his second try to level the scores and Coote’s kick edged the reigning champions ahead for the second time.
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