St Helens 42-22 Huddersfield

St Helens reached their fifth consecutive Super League Grand Final after overpowering Huddersfield in the last game at Knowsley Road.

Saints legend Keiron Cunningham was the fitting scorer of the final try at the old ground, putting the icing on a 42-22 victory, although Saints didn’t have it all their own way.

Following their impressive showing against Warrington last weekend, Huddersfield were always going to be a tough nut to crack for Mick Potter’s men, but the home side put their marker down early.

After winning the initial midfield arm wrestle, St Helens hit the front when a neat grubber kick through was pounced on by Bryn Hargreaves, playing his last home game before his move to Bradford.

Matty Smith‘s towering bomb then set up the field position for a quickfire second, Leroy Cudjoe‘s knock-on handing Saints the ball in the Giants endzone, and they took advantage when Hargreaves rolled out of a tackle to crash over under the sticks.

But despite their 12-0 deficit, the Giants worked their way back in to the game. Brett Hodgson began to punch holes in the Saints right hand defence and it was his flat pass that created a gap for Shaun Lunt to cross the line and give the visitors a foot hold.

And Warrington bound Hodgson was at the heart of their second try too, feeding Michael Lawrence in the corner and converting the touchline conversion to level things up at 12-12.

A lovely move resulted in Saints edging themselves back in front, an inside pass from Paul Clough finding the supporting Paul Wellens to cross.

But just as Saints were hoping to go in to the sheds for the final time with a solid cushion, Nathan Brown’s men gave them a timely reminder that they had a contest on their hands when Lawrence claimed Danny Brough‘s cross-field kick, grubbered past Francis Meli and then recovered the kick himself to touchdown. Despite Hodgson’s conversion miss, the Giants were within two at the interval.

The game was finely poised and it was Huddersfield that hit first after the break, former Saint Lee Gilmour getting on the end of Hodgson’s short grubber to put the Giants in front for the first time.

But once Wellens had got on the end of James Roby‘s kick to put St Helens back in front, they never looked back as Huddersfield lost their discipline, and tries from Tony Puletua and Francis Meli all but sealed the win.

And on the final night at Knowsley Road, it was only fitting that it was Cunningham who crossed the whitewash for the final time, to complete the perfect ending to the last chapter of the famous ground’s history.

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