Catalans are seventh different side to top Super League table in last nine years

James Gordon

James Maloney (6) of Catalans Dragons celebrates scoring a drop goal to win the game 30-31

Catalans made history at the weekend by securing their first ever Super League League Leaders’ Shield – but does it mean anything towards becoming champions?

The Dragons are the seventh different side to finish top of the regular season table in the last nine years, though only St Helens and Leeds have managed to then go on and win at Old Trafford in that time.

In the first 15 years of Super League, only four different clubs finished top of the table – so you could say it reflects the much more competitive nature of the competition now; although some might argue that clubs prioritise form going in to the play-offs than finishing top of the tree.

League Leaders Grand Final winners Runners-up
1996 St Helens N/A
1997 Bradford N/A
1998 Wigan Wigan Leeds
1999 Bradford St Helens Bradford
2000 Wigan St Helens Wigan
2001 Bradford Bradford Wigan
2002 St Helens St Helens Bradford
2003 Bradford Bradford Wigan
2004 Leeds Leeds Bradford
2005 St Helens Bradford Leeds
2006 St Helens St Helens Hull
2007 St Helens Leeds St Helens
2008 St Helens Leeds St Helens
2009 Leeds Leeds St Helens
2010 Wigan Wigan St Helens
2011 Warrington Leeds St Helens
2012 Wigan Leeds Warrington
2013 Huddersfield Wigan Warrington
2014 St Helens St Helens Wigan
2015 Leeds Leeds Wigan
2016 Warrington Wigan Warrington
2017 Castleford Leeds Castleford
2018 St Helens Wigan Warrington
2019 St Helens St Helens Salford
2020 Wigan St Helens Wigan
2021 Catalans

It was 2013 when Huddersfield became only the sixth different team to finish first after a stellar season under Paul Anderson – they fell short of reaching the Grand Final though, losing to second placed Warrington in the semi-finals.

The following two years St Helens and Leeds finished top and then did the job to add to their array of titles, before it was Warrington’s turn to finish top for the second time.

Unlike in 2011, they were able to make it all the way to Old Trafford this time, losing 12-6 to Wigan for a third Grand Final defeat.

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Castleford produced a dazzling season in 2017 to deservedly finish top of the table, only for them to fall at the final hurdle, going down 24-6 to the Leeds dynasty’s final outing at Old Trafford.

St Helens finished top in successive years before being pipped to the post at the end of 2020 by Wigan, who finished top for the first time since 2012.

Like Wigan did to them in 2018, Saints would win the Grand Final after seeing their rivals win the League Leaders’ Shield.

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So far, only Wigan, St Helens and Leeds have managed to win the Grand Final after finishing top of the table for the first time – can Catalans add their name to the list, and become only the fifth different champion since Super League started in 1996?

Time will tell.