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|
|2002||St Helens||St Helens||Bradford|
|2006||St Helens||St Helens||Hull|
|2007||St Helens||Leeds||St Helens|
|2008||St Helens||Leeds||St Helens|
|2014||St Helens||St Helens||Wigan|
|2019||St Helens||St Helens||Salford|
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.
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.
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.