St Helens vs Leeds Rhinos Grand Final: Team news, match preview and score prediction

Two best selling authors are fighting over the last page of their latest enthralling novel to decide how the tale of 2022 ends.

St Helens expected to be carving their name into history once again. The Champions are chasing a record fourth consecutive title. On top of that, this is a record breaking 14th Grand Final appearance for the Saints which could yield a record ninth Grand Final win as well as a record 10th Super League title. For them it’s all about records, about making more history and cementing themselves as the greatest team in Super League history.

As for Leeds, it has been a story of revival. The Rhinos were second bottom in April, they were in a relegation battle and five years without a Grand Final appearance looked set to be prolonged. Then Rohan Smith came in and has changed the narrative. A team that fights for each other, they’re fighting too for that record ninth Grand Final win but perhaps a more significant number would be the number seven. The Rhinos are no doubt inspired by their legendary scrum-half Rob Burrow in this their first Grand Final since he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Can they emulate his amazing character and win a third Grand Final from fifth?

Team News

The big news for St Helens is the potential return of Will Hopoate who has a “good chance” of playing according to coach Kristian Woolf. However, his return has been somewhat overshadowed by the will they won’t they saga around Morgan Knowles’ ban. He is set to play after it was overturned on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Dan Norman has a chance of playing in his first Grand Final after overcoming a cheek injury.

The Rhinos will be without David Fusitu’a, Harry Newman, Aidan Sezer and Morgan Gannon for this one. They welcome back Rhyse Martin from a ban in a major boost whilst winger Ash Handley is 50/50 to feature in a first Grand Final having missed out in 2015 and 2017.

Match Preview – Key Battles:

James Roby vs Jarrod O’Connor: No one would have predicted at the start of the season that Jarrod O’Connor would be starting a Super League Grand Final at hooker, and yet after a brilliant season in which he has transformed from 13 to 9, O’Connor is set to be tasked with taking the sting out of the Grand Final. He’ll be up against perhaps rugby league’s greatest ever number nine in James Roby whose big game experience will be key for the Champions.

Matty Lees vs Mikolaj Oledzki: With Alex Walmsley out injured the burden falls to Matty Lees to lead the St Helens pack after a superb season which yielded an England debut. He’ll have his work cut out against England teammate and Dream Team prop Mikolaj Oledzki. The one who gets on top of this battle could lead their side to victory.

Joe Batchelor vs James Bentley: St Helens’ new number 12 takes on his predecessor in a battle between the two form players going into this game. Both scored twice in their semi-final wins and both have real tenacity. It’ll be fascinating to see which one has the bigger impact on proceedings.

Where the game will be won and lost:

This game may be a case of cat and mouse. St Helens will no doubt look to dominate the middle and subsequently dominate possession and territory. But can they break the Rhinos down? Leeds have been brilliantly defensively recently including against Wigan in last week’s semi-final. They will want to keep Saints at bay until opportunities begin to open up for them.

Score Prediction: St Helens 14-6 Leeds Rhinos

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