They say ‘class is permanent, form is temporary’ – well, we certainly saw the class of the mighty Saints on Saturday as they extended their FOURmidable record of Betfred Super League titles.
The only team to win four back-to-back championships in Super League’s 25-year history is now being lauded as one of the greatest ever – and who can disagree?
We completely dominated a valiant and brave Leeds in front of 60,000 fans at Old Trafford, with the 24-12 scoreline flattering the Rhinos a little bit.
Saints got off to a flying start through a Matty Lees try after great work by the Harry Sunderland Award winner – the mercurial Jonny Lomax. Lees’ try was the quickest ever try in a Grand Final, and pretty much set the scene for what was to come.
On 17 minutes the irrepressible Jon Bennison, who arguably saved his best game of the season for the biggest stage of all, went down in the corner, and after a Tommy Makinson conversion the Saints led 12-0 and looked like blowing the Rhinos away early.
However, as I said before, you have to credit the runners-up who months into the season were sat in a disastrous 11th place and almost certain to miss the play-offs (66/1 with Betfred to win the Grand Final at one point).
They managed to keep us from scoring again in the first-half, and kept their hopes alive with a converted try just before the half-time hooter.
However, normal service was soon resumed as Konrad Hurrell, a former Rhino, used his strength to barge over the line and put us two scores ahead. Ten minutes later, Mark Percival pounced on a sublime kick from Jack Welsby to pretty much secure a record-breaking fourth Betfred Super League title.
What better way to send three-time winning coach Kristian Woolf back off to Australia to join new NRL outfit the Dolphins?
Woolfy has done a remarkable job since his appointment at the start of 2020, notably adding a defensive steel to the club that recent successes have been built on. Also, his ability to manage some difficult times around Covid, injuries and suspensions has impressed. He has also developed some great young players in those times, that could be the key to success for years to come.
I personally want to wish Kristian and his family the very best on their next chapter.
So, who will be next?
I think we all know it has to be my old mate Paul Wellens, who is more than ready to take charge having had a very important influence on the recent glory years.
With the job undoubtedly comes pressure. After four titles in a row, the Saints fans will demand number five – but I know this guy can deliver.
Rugby league as a whole is set for a very interesting and exciting few months as new strategic partners IMG are set to present their findings, and more importantly recommendations on where the game should be heading.
These are to help drive much-needed commercial revenue, future broadcasting deals and fan and player participation.
I’m possibly biased, but we have the best product in the world on the field. However, the sport needs to take drastic action to meet this off the pitch. Hopefully IMG, who are global leaders in this area, can achieve their goals and take this fantastic sport to new heights.
Finally, a big thank you to my good friends and title sponsors Betfred for their continued, hands-on support at all levels of the professional game.
Fred has already tipped Saints to make it five in a row next season – and he’s already got them priced up at 9/4!
Betfred Super League Betting Odds