Can Leeds shock St Helens? Super League Grand Final talking points

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

The Super League Grand Final will take place at Old Trafford on Saturday when defending champions St Helens face Leeds.

The Saints beat Salford to secure a spot in the fourth straight final, while Leeds edged out the Catalans Dragons and Wigan to reach their first final since 2017.

Here we look at pre-game talking points.

Leeds is in shape

Leeds defeats Wigan in semi-final (Nigel French/PA)

(PA wire)

It was a two-stroke season for the Rhinos, who appeared to be facing a battle to stay in the top flight when the teams met earlier in the season when St Helens won 26-0 at Headingley.

The Rhinos have since switched coaches, with Rohan Smith now at the wheel.

The Rhinos looked like an unlikely candidate for the play-offs, but they ended the season in style and claimed 11 wins in their last 13 games, including play-off victories over Wigan and the Catalans.

Leeds are hoping their form will win their first Superleague title in five years.

Woolf’s last game

Kristian Woolf bids farewell to St Helens after Saturday’s final (Will Matthews/PA)

(PA wire)

Kristian Woolf will return to Australia after the game after three years in charge of the Saints, overseeing one of the most successful spells in the club’s history.

The 47-year-old has helped to win the Challenge Cup for the first time in 13 years and the Superliga title in each of his first two campaigns as St Helens look to claim four straight Grand Final victories for the first time in the history of the competition.

Woolf has the opportunity to become the first coach to win the Grand Final three times, the Australian is currently tied with Brian McDermott and Brian McLennan with two titles.

Roby equals finals record

James Roby is on his way to his 11th Grand Final appearance (Zac Goodwin/PA)

(PA file)

St Helens hooker James Roby has made over 500 appearances for the club, having only represented the Saints.

He can match a record set by former Leeds supporter Jamie Peacock by participating in his 11th Grand Final on Saturday.

The 36-year-old has won the Super League’s most coveted award five times (2006, 2014, 2019, 2020 and 2021), but a weekend defeat means he could become the first man to lose six Grand Finals, having previously been on the losing side to St Helens in five consecutive seasons between 2007 and 2011, three of those defeats were against Leeds.

A player-of-the-game performance for the veteran will also see him become the first man to lift the Harry Sunderland trophy on three occasions.

Sutcliffe’s Last Appearance

Liam Sutcliffe will play his last game before moving to Hull (Will Matthews/PA)

(PA file)

Leeds forward Liam Sutcliffe is currently the club’s longest-serving player, having spent the last nine years with them, having passed through the youth system.

But he will pack up and leave for Hull after the final whistle on Saturday.

The 27-year-old has played 221 games for Rhinos since his first-team debut in 2013, making 11 appearances for the club in their winning 2015 campaign, and will look to bid farewell with another Grand Final medal winner to add to his 2017 triumph.

Records will be broken

St Helens equaled Leeds’ record of three straight Super League wins, which was set in 2009 (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

(PA file)

Whether wanted or unwanted, Saturday’s final is destined to break Super League records.

Two of the most successful teams in league history will face each other and whichever team gets their hands on the prize, they will set a new record for Grand Final wins, both having lifted the Superleague trophy eight times.

The Saints could be the first team to score four goals, with Leeds previously setting the record for consecutive wins in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

But on the other hand, if St Helens experience defeat, it would equal the unwelcome record of six defeats at the final barrier, currently held by Wigan.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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