This Saints team is on the verge of immortality as they set their sights firmly on an historic fourth consecutive Betfred Super League title.
If they can achieve this by beating Leeds in the Grand Final on Saturday at Old Trafford, it will be four in a row against four different teams, showing just how dominant we’ve been.
Our 2019 Grand Final opponents Salford were very worthy semi-finalists after an outstanding second half of the season. A one-sided win against Huddersfield earned them the trip to the Totally Wicked Stadium last Saturday.
You have to give them the utmost credit for their performance, going 12-0 down before battling back to get within a point – with just a Jonny Lomax drop-goal the difference.
Saints flew out of the blocks, showing that steely, aggressive defence I called for in last week’s column. They started like the champions they are, threatening the Salford line on numerous occasions – and they turned that pressure into points with two Joe Batchelor tries that were both converted by Tommy Makinson.
A Kallum Watkins try kept the Red Devils alive, but the Lomax one-pointer on the half-time hooter kept Saints two scores ahead at 13-6.
The second-half was admittedly a bit of a lull for a while as fatigue set in on both teams, but it was Saints that finished the strongest with the outstanding Jon Bennison refusing to give up the chase on a Lomax kick that looked to be going dead. He touched down, confirming Saints’ place in the big finale next weekend.
Boss Kristian Woolf spoke in his post-match press conference of the boost the Saints faithful gave the players during that second 40 minutes – something the squad will hope to hear again at Old Trafford.
So, it’s the Rhinos who stand in the way of Woolfy’s dream send-off, after a surprising win at Wigan.
Like Salford, Leeds are a million miles away from the levels they were showing in the opening couple of months. Step up new coach Rohan Smith, and they’ve now won 11 of their last 13 games.
They will, however, be missing key play-maker Aiden Sezer who failed a HIA following a late high tackle by John Bateman, who was sent off and faces a five-match ban.
There will still be plenty of talent on show for both teams though. The Rhinos welcome back Rhyse Martin from suspension, and Mark Percival’s return has given Saints a massive boost ahead of the final.
Leeds have proved over the years that, on the biggest stage, they can turn it on – but even so, I still believe Saints will have too much.
I’m going for Saints to win that unprecedented fourth straight title by six points or more (10/11 at Betfred), and the in-form Joe Batchelor to again get the opening try (14/1).