|14th Oct 2006|| Super League Grand Final||NEUTRAL||72582||HT:10-4|
|MATCH NOTES : Match played at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester. Saints claimed their fifth Championship in 11 years in front of a record Grand Final crowd. Paul Anderson and Jamie Lyon played their last games for the Saints. Kieron Cunningham notched up his 150th try and Man of Steel Paul Wellens capped a fantastic week by picking up the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match. |
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Saints completed the treble - and one of the best seasons in their illustrious history - with a brilliant Grand Final performance at Old Trafford.
Although they scored five quality tries, it was a brilliant defensive performance that restricted Hull to just one score and won Saints the match and the Championship. That rearguard was led, as ever, by Great Britain full-back Paul Wellens who was named man-of-the-match.
In a pulsating first-half both sides looked to take advantage of the good conditions and get the ball wide. But, as with the semi-final between these teams two weeks ago defences remained tough and largely on top.
It was no surprise that the first try was created by a kick, Sean Long producing a delightful chip for left winger Francis Meli to touch down.
Hull, however, were not to be downhearted. A brilliant tackle by Jamie Lyon and Wellens on Gareth Raynor had already forced the Hull winger into touch in the act of scoring but the Humbersiders had shown they had the ability to score.
Although Saints' defence had been enthusiastic and solid, Hull had the craft to find a way through. It took a last-gasp tackle by Jon Wilkin to prevent Shaun Briscoe from rounding off his break but from the resulting position Paul Cooke's hanging kick to the right found its way to Sid Domic to level the scores.
Lee Gilmour was causing problems to Hull's left-sided defence and Ade Gardner came close to scoring but Briscoe proved to be an unpassable obstacle.
However with less than sixty seconds of the first half remaining, the 2005 Harry Sunderland Trophy winner, Leon Pryce, broke through Hull's left side and this time Briscoe couldn't get across in time to stop the stand-off sliding over. Lyon's touchline conversion provided a further boost to the 25,000 Saints fans amongst the record Grand Final crowd.
On the restart and just as at Twickenham, Saints repelled their opponent's refreshed efforts and then unleashed their destructive attack.
Hull lost possession on halfway and Saints seized the opportunity, moving forward for Hooper to supply the killer pass to Willie Talau.
As they do so often, Saints turned one try into two, Gardner soaring above Raynor to claim Long's crossfield kick.
Sixteen points adrift, Hull knew they had to score soon and attacked with verve and belief. However Saints have built their success all season on defence and pulled off no less than four trysaving tackles in a minute.
Leon Pryce hauled back Lee Radford then Wellens stopped the supporting Richard Horne. The Man of Steel then somehow got across to the left corner to stop Motu Tony scoring before Wilkin felled Richard Swain in the shadow of the posts. Try as they might, there was no way through the wall of white-shirted defenders.
Two minutes later, the Grand Final was won. Maurie Fa'asavalu's offload allowed Keiron Cunningham to plunge over from close range for his 150th Saints try.
Even with the game won Wellens produced another try-saving tackle, again on Richard Horne to keep the line intact, to show why he deservedly added the Harry Sunderland Trophy to a host of individual accolades he has received in 2006.
It rounded off a memorable evening for Saints who can now relax with the satisfaction that they have fulfilled their potential and established the legacy their efforts richly merited.
Saints: Paul Wellens, Ade Gardner, Jamie Lyon, Willie Talau, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Sean Long, Paul Anderson, Keiron Cunningham, Jason Cayless, Lee Gilmour, Jon Wilkin, Jason Hooper.
Interchanges: James Roby, James Graham, Mike Bennett, Maurie Fa'asavalu.
T: Meli, Pryce, Talau, Gardner, Cunningham.
G: Lyon (3/5)
Hull: Shaun Briscoe, Motu Tony, Sid Domic, Kirk Yeaman, Gareth Raynor, Paul Cooke, Richard Horne, Ewan Dowes, Richard Swain, Garreth Carvell, Shayne McMenemy, Lee Radford, Danny Washbrook.
Interchanges: Richard Whiting, Graeme Horne, Scott Wheeldon, Paul King.
G: Cooke (0/1)
Referee: K Kirkpatrick
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