St Helens have made history by becoming the first-ever team to win four successive Super League Grand Finals following a dominant 24-12 victory over Leeds at Old Trafford.
It was the perfect farewell for departing head coach Kristian Woolf, who will link up with the Dolphins for their inaugural season in the NRL in 2023.
Matty Lees created more history, scoring the quickest-ever try in a Grand Final just two minutes into the clash. He was joined on the scoresheet by team-mates Jon Bennison, Konrad Hurrell and Mark Percival at the Theatre of Dreams.
Following his try-scoring performance against Salford, Bennison retained his spot at full-back for the Saints. Will Hopoate returned from injury and was named on the wing alongside Percival. Sione Mata’utia moved to the bench.
For Leeds, the major change saw Cameron Smith named in the halves in replacement of Aidan Sezer, who missed out due to a head knock. England international Ash Handley also returned from injury, replacing Liam Tindall on the wing. Rhyse Martin was named at starting back-row following the completion of his two-match ban.
St Helens opened the scoring just two minutes into the clash, the quickest try in Grand Final history. James Bentley gave away the first penalty of the evening for a high shot on Percival. On the following set, Jonny Lomax made half a break and fed forward Lees to race under the sticks and score in front of the Leeds supporters.
19-year-old Bennison extended the lead on 17 minutes. Defending at full-back and attacking on the wing, the youngster grounding a grubber kick from Jack Welsby to make it 12-0. Tommy Makinson converting both tries.
Captain Kruise Leeming hit back for the Rhinos just 30 seconds before the break. Zak Hardaker with the initial break, and on the the next play the hooker was in the right place at the right time to receive a pass from Smith to crash his way over. Martin converting for his record-breaking 37th consecutive goal.
HT: St Helens 12-6 Leeds
Tonga international Hurrell opened the scoring early in the second half against his former club. The strong centre carrying four defenders over the line with him to ground the ball.
Centre Percival all-but sealed the victory on 57 minutes. The England international first to ground the ball from a kick from Welsby, with both players fighting for a spot in Shaun Wane’s 24-man squad ahead of the World Cup.
Martin crossed for a try on his return on 70 minutes to give the Leeds fans some hope. The back-rower featuring in the centres in the second half and supporting Tom Briscoe on the wing to score in the corner. The Rhinos thought they were in again, before the referee brought the play back for a forward pass.
Harry Sunderland Trophy winner Lomax went for a drop-goal in the final 60 seconds but hit the posts in front of the St Helens supporters. However, it didn’t matter too much as St Helens lifted the Grand Final trophy in front of a crowd of 60,783.
FT: St Helens 24-12 Leeds
St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Hopoate, Welsby, Lomax, Paasi, Roby, Lees, Batchelor, Sironen, Knowles. Bench: Mata’utia, Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wingfield.
Tries: Lees, Bennison, Hurrell, Percival.
Goals: Makinson 4/5
Leeds: Myler, Briscoe, Hardaker, Sutcliffe, Handley, Smith, Austin, Oledzki, O’Connor, Prior, Bentley, Martin, Tetevano. Bench: Leeming, Donaldson, Walters, Thompson.
Tries: Leeming, Martin
Goals: Martin 2/2