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Morgan Knowles and Zeb Taia lead St Helens to Grand Final win over Salford

first_imgFairytales do not always have happy endings. A journey no Salford Red Devils fan could surely have imagined began in February, when relegation seemed more likely for this bunch of misfits than a first-ever appearance in the Grand Final. But, ultimately, the ruthless nature of one of the most talented British teams in years was just too much to handle.Had Justin Holbrook’s final game in charge before he returns to Australia ended in defeat, this St Helens side might have been remembered for all the wrong reasons. Any notion this squad were unable to deliver their best when it truly mattered, however, can now be emphatically laid to rest. Share on WhatsApp Share on Pinterest match reports Topics Twitter St Helens 23-6 Salford Red Devils: Super League Grand Final – as it happened Share on Twitter From the opening few minutes, when Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley set about breaking down Salford’s resistance, it felt certain this would be the Saints’ night.Having topped the Super League table by 16 points, Saints’ first title in five years is no less than their superiority throughout a record-breaking season deserves, irrespective of the fact they were facing a side who have breathed new life into the competition. As the Saints claimed the title amid a blaze of pyrotechnics and fireworks, it was hard to argue the right outcome for the competition had been reached.“I’m just satisfied and so happy that we’ve finally got what we worked so hard for,” Holbrook said. “I’ve loved it here. It’s been a great three years and the players deserve this trophy more than anyone.” … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many new organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Toronto Wolfpack claim Sonny Bill Williams interested in joining club Share via Email Since you’re here… Support The Guardian Salford City Reds Pinterest center_img Share on LinkedIn The Observer St Helens Facebook Yet the way Salford reached Old Trafford this season should act as a story of hope and positivity for the sport as a whole to build on. At times, rugby league has negativity as its default setting, so for Salford’s journey to be the platform for an underdog tale as captivating as this offers the chance for an upturn in positivity and optimism.Senior Castleford players in 2017 were not afraid to admit that their defeat in the Grand Final could have been their one and only chance at the title; there is a similar feeling here for the Red Devils, whose squad will be broken up following the departure of key players such as Jackson Hastings and Josh Jones. Despite the result, however, this promises to be a night, spent just four miles down the road from home, that Salford and their supporters will never forget.“The best team won,” their coach, Ian Watson, said. “It’s been amazing. It’s about more than a Grand Final; the boys have got people to fall in love with Salford rugby again. Our supporters have been outstanding all year … if we can keep 1,000 of the extra fans who were here tonight, we can build on this.”Saints’ early dominance gave way to the opening score after Walmsley sent Morgan Knowles over and was followed by a set move culminating in Zeb Taia scoring to make it 12-0. The level of control suggested the writing was on the wall for Salford. But this Red Devils side possess spirit in abundance and by half-time they had clawed their way back into the contest through a Jake Bibby try.Krisnan Inu’s goal made it 12-6 at half-time and the cynics may have been wondering if Saints’ mettle in another big game was about to bend.Mark Percival’s magnificent solo try shortly after the restart ensured that would not be the case and by then the amount of defending Salford had to endure proved decisive.The defensive burden sapped their energy levels significantly and they were unable to threaten any sort of comeback. Saints’ control was underlined by the two penalties from Lachlan Coote, which opened up a three-score lead, and a late drop goal from Tommy Makinson, who confirmed after the match that he had suffered a dislocated shoulder which seems certain to rule him out of Great Britain’s upcoming tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.There was a feeling in some parts of St Helens this week that the nature of Salford’s story has undeservedly overshadowed their own remarkable season. Now there is only one team the rugby league world has eyes on; but how Salford could travel back home with their heads held high. Rugby league Read more Read more Share on Facebook Share on Messenger Super League St Helens’ Morgan Knowles celebrates scoring his side’s first try of the Grand Final against Salford Red Devils at Old Trafford. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA Reuse this contentlast_img read more

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