Old Trafford hosted a crowd of 60,783 to witness St Helens beat Leeds Rhinos in the Super League Grand Final by 24 points to 12 to make it a record-breaking four grand final victories on the bounce.
The fifth final between Super League’s two most successful clubs was greeted by the usual flamethrower and light show coupled with a terrific performance by Camilla Kerslake of British Rugby League’s anthem – Jerusalem.
It was an occasion to savour with both sets of supporters vocal ahead of kick-off where soon after it was the defending champions that took the lead with the fastest try in grand final history on 2 minutes from a breakthrough from Jonny Lomax to feed Matty Lees to go over relatively unchallenged.
20 minutes in they went further ahead thanks to a Jon Bennison try, the young academy product went over the line before going on to have a terrific game alongside Jack Welsby and was a close contender for man of the match.
Leeds responded just before the breakthrough Kruise Leeming after some good off-the-cuff Rugby he marginally got the ball down in the corner to make it 12-6 at the break.
St Helens soon came marching in after halftime and scored twice again through former Leeds man Konrad Hurrell and Mr consistent Mark Percival. A lot of the play going forward was created by the Harry Sunderland man of the match winner Jonny Lomax who was at the centre of everything and was a deserved recipient of the award.
There was some good play going forward from Blake Austin and a moment when Zak Hardaker broke through but the St Helens defence was as solid as ever in their numbers.
The Rhinos weren’t able to find a way back into the game with enough time to spare even though Rhys Martin went over with nine minutes left on the clock after they outnumbered St Helens and a returned pass from Tom Briscoe saw Martin reduce the deficit to 24-12.
Kristian Woolf adds another trophy to his collection from his time in England and will be satisfied that he has managed to stop the rot of losing to Leeds in the showpiece event after four previous defeats. Woolf leaves with a hat-trick of super league grand final wins from 2020 to 2022, one league leaders shield from the 2022 season and a 2021 challenge cup triumph at Wembley.
St Helens assistant coach Paul Wellens has declared his desire for the full head coach role ahead of the 2023 season. Whether they will appoint Wellens is another matter as they may feel another Australian coach fits the bill after two successful stints from Justin Hollbrook and the departing Woolf. Fans have called for a chance to be given to one of their own with Wellens who is a former player and a club legend.
Leeds Rhinos and coach Rohan Smith will be more than satisfied with how the season has worked out. A club that sat 11th in the table after 10 games have executed a terrific run which led them to an unexpected appearance in the grand final and can build upon that next season.