The 2020 Grand Final will forever be remembered as the Jack Welsby final after the youngest player on the pitch upstaged the two oldest.
The build-up was all about Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin, 38, and St Helens front-rower James Graham, 35, and which of them could bring their glittering careers to a close with a fairytale victory.
It was all about two of the greatest players of the modern game, who could boast 15 Super League Grand Final appearances between them, but instead the limelight went to a 19-year-old playing in his first Grand Final and was only in the team due to injury to England centre Mark Percival.
“As a fan, I remember watching ‘Wide to West’ and thinking this will never be beaten but I think young Jack Welsby has just done that,” Graham said.
Graham was referring to the role performed by Dwayne West in arguably the most famous try in Super League history, the one scored by captain Chris Joynt to win in a qualifying play-off against Bradford in 2000.
With the Bulls leading 11-10, the clock was up and there was one last play for St Helens to score. After the ball had been passed back and forth on the right hand side, Sean Long switched the play left where he found West, who beat two Bradford players before passing inside for Joynt to touch down.
It became known as the ‘Wide to West’ try after the memorable commentary by Sky Sports’ Eddie Hemmings.
The final hooter had also gone at the KCOM Stadium on Friday night and the game was heading for extra time with the scores locked at 4-4 when St Helens winger Tommy Makinson attempted a long range drop goal.
It looked to be on target before swerving at the last minute, rebounding off the right upright and bouncing kindly for the chasing Welsby to touch down in front of bewildered Wigan full-back Bevan French.
“I honestly can’t put into words my feelings right now,” Welsby told Sky Sports. “I backed Tommy to kick it or at least be close but I thought ‘I’m putting everything into this last couple of seconds’.
“I just chased as hard as I could and you couldn’t write it, could you?
“I’m absolutely made up. I don’t think I’ll ever top anything like that in my career.”
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