The 25th Betfred Super League Grand Final will have a familiar feel on Saturday night. Old Trafford has got very used to welcoming Leeds Rhinos and St Helens for the biggest game of the rugby league season.
These two have been at this point so often. Saints are making their 14th appearance in the Grand Final, Leeds their 11th. No club has been there more often, while no match-up has been repeated as regularly. This is the fifth time the pair have come together for the season finale.
And Saints have lost every single one.
They’ve only actually been beaten in five of their 13 previous visits to the title clash, but they all came in successive seasons between 2007 and 2011, and four of the five were at the hands of the Rhinos. So while the Saints arrive in Manchester with the League Leaders’ Shield and the tag of bookies’ favourites, try telling their fans that history isn’t about to repeat itself.
- Betfred's Grand Final Odds*
Leeds have rallied brilliantly after a dreadful start to the season which led to head coach Richard Agar departing, his replacement Rohan Smith leading them on an unlikely run to Old Trafford. They also have the psychological edge that four previous Grand Final wins over the same opponent will give you.
This wouldn’t be the first time Leeds have upset the odds to down Saints in the campaign’s epic conclusion…
2007 – St Helens (1st) v Leeds Rhinos (2nd)
Result: Leeds 33-6 St Helens
The two sides had only been separated by a single point over the 27 regular rounds and Saints had edged the qualifying semi-final 10-8, meaning a close final was expected. But after a nip-and-tuck first half Leeds ran riot in the second, Rob Burrow winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy as the catalyst of a stunning final 40 minutes.
2008 – St Helens (1st) v Leeds Rhinos (2nd)
Result: Leeds 24-16 St Helens
Saints again finished one point above Leeds but this time they had trounced the Rhinos in the play-offs. And when James Graham put the Red Vee ahead early it seemed like revenge was on the cards, but Lee Smith and Ryan Hall crossed to give Leeds the lead and after Matt Gidley and Ade Gardner had hit back it was two Danny McGuire tries that clinched it for the Yorkshiremen.
2009 – Leeds Rhinos (1st) v St Helens (2nd)
Result: Leeds 18-10 St Helens
Leeds were the outright favourites this time, having finished four points clear of Saints on the ladder. Kyle Eastmond’s early try gave the Red Vee another early lead but Lee Smith ran in two tries as Leeds’ defence kept Saints quiet for the rest of the night to secure a third straight triumph.
2011 – St Helens (3rd) v Leeds Rhinos (5th)
Result: Leeds 32-16 St Helens
After defeat to Wigan in 2010, Saints were back at Old Trafford 12 months later aiming to avoid a fifth consecutive Grand Final loss. In treacherous conditions, the game was on a knife-edge until Burrow came on and delivered one of the great Grand Final tries. While St Helens responded with two tries to lead 16-8, the Rhinos rallied again as Burrow superbly teed up Ryan Hall for one of their four second-half touchdowns as they eventually ran out healthy winners.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change