St Helens are now Betfred’s 11/4 outright favourites to win the 2019 Betfred Super League Grand Final after a 22-12 derby win over Wigan Warriors in the season opener.
And what a way to kick off the new season!
Saints started the game, which it must be said felt significantly quicker and more dynamic thanks to the newly added ‘shot clock’, expertly with new signing Kevin Naiqama scoring the very first try of the 2019 Betfred Super League season in just two minutes.
The try was converted by Mark Percival to give St Helens an instant 6-0 lead.
After another try, this time by Jonny Lomax, was also converted successfully, it began to look like the Saints were going to run rampant and show just why they are many’s pick to win the Grand Final this year.
However, reigning champions Wigan Warriors had other ideas, finding their way back into the game after a Ben Flower try that was converted by new addition Zak Hardaker, who was class on the night.
They continued this resurgence and just five minutes before half-time, a rapid breakaway try from Liam Marshall – after intercepting a pass from Saints new boy Lachlan Coote – was again converted.
It was a real game of two halves in the first 40 as the two entered the break 12-12.
Just ten minutes into the second half though and the video ref was to be called upon for the first time this season, declaring a try for St Helens – scored by Regan Grace – that regained Justin Holbrook’s side the lead.
From then, the game was cagey. Defences were tight. You never really felt like you knew which side was going to get the upper hand and win the game.
That’s until James Roby, a Man of Steel 2018 contender, scored his 94th try with just seven minutes of the game left. Percival converted, taking his total on the night to 3/4.
That ended up being the winning point with the Saints, epitomised by the performance of Betfred Man of the Match Theo Fages, putting down a strong marker for the rest of the field.
As a result, St Helens have been cut to 11/4 outright favourites to win the 2019 Grand Final, with Wigan drifting out to 5/1 to repeat last season’s success.
Lots of positives to take from both sides tonight, and if this is even a taster of what we’re yet to witness this season – what a campaign we’re in for!