Battle at back, playmaking duel & grunt up front: Key battles ahead of Grand Final

The elongated 2020 Super League season finally comes to a close on Friday night when reigning champions St Helens take on newly crowned league leaders Wigan.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the key battles that could determine the outcome of the 23rd Grand Final.

Battle at the back

Lachlan Coote (St Helens) v Bevan French (Wigan)

Both fleet-footed full-backs were shortlisted for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award after magnificent seasons for their clubs before losing out to Castleford hooker Paul McShane.

Coote stepped effortlessly in the shoes of Ben Barba two years ago and, as well as scoring and creating tries for fun, he has proved to be one of the most solid last lines of defence. French started out on the wing but, following his switch to full-back, finished top of the league for tackle busts and clean breaks in the regular season and was runner-up to Ash Handley as leading try scorer.

The playmaking duel

Jonny Lomax (St Helens) v Jackson Hastings (Wigan)

The naturally gifted Lomax has been St Helens’ most consistent attacking threat over the last three years after forming a devastating spine with Theo Fages, James Roby and Coote.

Hastings pipped him to the Man of Steel award in 2019 and has gone up another level with Wigan this year. In particular, Hastings has broadened his involvement in the team so, instead of being something of a maverick, his more measured input has brought out the best in the likes of French.

The grunt up front

Alex Walmsley (St Helens) v Brad Singleton (Wigan)

Walmsley has led the way almost single-handedly for his club since the departure of regular front-row partner Luke Thompson and has supplemented his trademark bulldozing runs with an eye for the line that brought him nine tries in the regular season – comfortably the most by a prop.

Singleton, a regular Grand Final winner with Leeds, has added significantly to the Wigan pack since his arrival from Toronto in September. He can carry the ball as strongly as most front-rowers but also demonstrates subtle ball-handling skills which have added a new dimension to Wigan’s attack.

Listen to The Final Hooter podcast, featuring exclusive interviews, every week. SUBSCRIBE to Love Rugby League on Apple Podcasts.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.