From Joynt’s ‘voluntary tackle’ to Burrow’s 50m try – five great Grand Finals

St Helens will meet Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford on Saturday.

Sunny Badwal
Friday 08 October 2021 09:00
St Helens are aiming to win their third consecutive Grand Final as they come up against Catalans Dragons (Martin Rickett/PA)
St Helens are aiming to win their third consecutive Grand Final as they come up against Catalans Dragons (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Super League Grand Final will return to Old Trafford on Saturday when St Helens take on Catalans Dragons

Catalans will be playing in their first Grand Final, while St Helens are aiming to win the title for a third consecutive year and become champions for an eighth time.

Here, the PA news agency look at five memorable Grand Finals from the past.

2002: St Helens  19-18 Bradford

Sean Long’s drop goal in the dying stages secured victory for St Helens over Bradford (Gareth Copley/PA)

In front of a crowd of 61,000, the 2002 Grand Final saw St Helens come out victorious over Bradford in a clash between the two powerhouses of English rugby league of that era. The sides had finished the regular season level on points, and one point was the difference at Old Trafford as a late drop goal from Sean Long was enough to take silverware back to Knowsley Park. However, the outcome could have been very different after Saints skipper Chris Joynt went to ground in the last minute and was accused of a voluntary tackle. Bradford thought they should have been awarded a penalty, but referee Russell Smith disagreed.

2020: St Helens 8-4 Wigan

St Helens’ James Roby lifts the trophy after beating Wigan 8-4 (Martin Rickett/PA)

The 2020 Grand Final was the first not to be held at Old Trafford and no fans were present to watch St Helens beat Wigan in a low-scoring affair at the MKM Stadium in Hull. The game was destined for golden point extra time when a last-gasp try from Jack Welsby snatched victory for Saints. With the scores locked at 4-4, Tommy Makinson tried his luck with a drop goal which came back off the post and fell in the in-goal area for 19-year-old Welsby to pounce and win it for St Helens.

2005: Bradford 15-6 Leeds

Lesley Vainikolo scored a try to help Bradford beat rivals Leeds 15-6 (Gareth Copley/PA)

In a rematch from 2004 when Leeds came out victorious over their West Yorkshire rivals, Bradford got their revenge a year later. It was all to play for at half time as the Bulls led 8-6. But a Lesley Vainikolo try was converted by Paul Deacon before former Leeds player Iestyn Harris kicked a drop goal as the Bulls became the first side to finish outside the top two to win the Grand Final.

2015: Leeds 22-20 Wigan

Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield lifted the Super League trophy on his final appearance for the Rhinos (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Leeds’ Grand Final win in 2015 sealed a historic domestic treble for the West Yorkshire side, but they had to fight off a Wigan comeback to take home the silverware. On his last rugby league appearance, Kevin Sinfield took his side into the half-time break 16-6 up but the game was turned on its head when tries from Dom Manfredi and Matty Bowen put Wigan in front. With around 15 minutes to go, Josh Walters scored a try to level things up. Leeds legend Sinfield held his nerve to kick the conversion, and the Rhinos went on to win a thrilling encounter.

2011: St Helens 16-32 Leeds

Leeds Rhinos were victorious over St Helens for the fourth time in Grand Final history (Anna Gowthorpe/PA)

Memorable for Rob Burrow’s stunning 50-metre try, this was the fourth time in five years that Leeds had beaten St Helens on Super League’s biggest stage. Saints trailed by six points at half time but they led 16-8 with just under a quarter of the game to play and looked set to end their losing streak against the Rhinos. But Leeds fought back with 24 points in the final 17 minutes to complete a great comeback.

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