|Betfred Super League – Grand Final|
|Venue: Old Trafford Date: Saturday, 12 October Kick-off: 18:00 BST Coverage: BBC Radio 5 Live and local radio coverage and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website|
St Helens and Salford keep faith with the 19-man squads that carried them to the Super League Grand Final.
Departing Saints head coach Justin Holbrook will be looking for a glorious send-off before taking over at NRL side Gold Coast in his native Australia.
Salford’s Man of Steel award winner Jackson Hastings will aim for fond farewell himself before joining Wigan.
A win for Grand Final first-timers Salford against Saints would rank as the competition’s greatest upset.
Six-time champions St Helens have five of the 2019 Dream Team in their side at Old Trafford on Saturday, including competition leading try-scorer Tommy Makinson.
Hastings, voted Super League’s best player on Sunday, and Josh Jones, who is will being getting married the day after the decider, are Dream Team players in the Red Devils line-up.
There are a number of personal milestones being reached at Old Trafford as well, with St Helens prop Kyle Amor reaching 300 career appearances, while captain James Roby is poised to play his 450th game for the club.
Salford hooker Logan Tomkins makes his 200th career appearance in what is likely to be his last for the club.
Saints v Salford – a history
Salford are going for their first Super League crown but they were a major force in the English game, winning six titles before the modern era.
The most recent was in 1975-76, when they also faced St Helens in the Premiership Trophy final – and lost 15-2 at Swinton’s Station Road ground.
They have since failed to reach such heights since then, and featured in the Super League play-offs for just the second time, having flirted with relegation in previous seasons.
Saints, who have twice beaten Salford this season and won 40 of their previous 46 meetings in the competition, are going for their seventh Super League crown and 14th English title overall.
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How Saints marched to Old Trafford
St Helens were beaten just three times in 30 games on their way to the Grand Final.
They claimed the League Leaders’ Shield for the second successive season, and this time did so in record fashion by finishing 16 points clear of second-placed Wigan at the end of the regular season.
They needed only one play-off game to get reach Old Trafford, hammering Wigan 40-10 in their semi-final.
Saints have collected plenty of plaudits for their efforts, with Holbrook named coach of the year, prop Matty Lees young player of the year and the quintet of Makinson, Lachlan Coote, Kevin Naiqama, Luke Thompson and Morgan Knowles selected in the Super League’s Dream Team.
How Salford reached their first Super League decider
Ian Watson’s side have spent 2019 making a mockery of pre-season expectations.
They were tipped to be among those to toil in the lower half of the table, but instead finished third in the standings.
As the least experienced of the five teams in the play-offs, their campaign was then expected to stall.
And while they were beaten by Wigan in the qualifying final, they went on beat Castleford in week two of the play-offs before upstage five-time Super League champions Warriors on their return to the DW Stadium to book a Grand Final spot.
Half-back Hastings went on to be named as Super League’s best player, winning the Man of Steel honour on Sunday.
Grand Final in numbers
- FIVE – St Helens lost five successive Grand Finals from 2007 to 2011 but hold the record for most appearances with 11.
- SIX – Saints captain James Roby is hoping to avoid setting the record for most Grand Final defeats. He shares the unwanted record of five with Lee Gilmour, James Graham, Francis Meli, Leon Pryce, Paul Wellens and Jon Wilkin.
- EIGHT – St Helens have won all but two of the last 10 meetings with the Red Devils.
- 13 – St Helens’ former North Queensland full-back Lachlan Coote is hoping to become the 13th overseas player to win both a Super League and an NRL Grand Final, having helped the Cowboys to a 2017-16 golden-point triumph over Brisbane in 2015.
- 13 – Salford’s goalkicking winger Krisnan Inu goes into the game needing 13 points to reach 1,000 for his career. He has scored 239 in his first season for Salford, after previously playing for Widnes, Catalans Dragons, Canterbury Bulldogs, New Zealand Warriors and Parramatta Eels.
Grand Final squads named
St Helens (from): Lomax, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Ashworth, Smith, Bentley, Coote.
Salford Red Devils (from): Evalds, Welham, Bibby, Mossop, Wood, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, Flanagan, Lussick, Walker, Burke, McCarthy, Tomkins, Sio, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Johnson.