In a repeat of the 2019 Grand Final, St Helens host Salford with a place in this year’s Grand Final up for grabs.
Saints are chasing history as they look to win a record breaking fourth consecutive Super League title whilst Salford are looking to defy the odds as they did in 2019 only this time they have their eyes on a happy ending to the fairytale.
Two great stories to be told, which side will be able to write their final chapter and who will see their cinema script torn up and told to start again in 2023?
If the Champions are going to retain their trophy, they’re going to have to do it tough. They’re without Will Hopoate, Regan Grace, Lewis Dodd, Alex Walmsley and Dan Norman. Mark Percival and Sione Mata’utia are both back but not guaranteed to play though it looks likely they will. Sam Royale also returns to the mix.
As for Salford, the headline is of course the absence of Brodie Croft through a head knock. His absence is made no less easier with Dan Sarginson unable to return as an option in the spine so Paul Rowley will have to name Chris Atkin at six. Greg Burke and James Greenwood are the only other absentees from the first 13 squad numbers whilst Harvey Livett could return.
Match Preview – Key Battles:
Konrad Hurrell vs Tim Lafai: The last time these two met, the tussle went firmly the way of Tim Lafai as he produced perhaps the best individual display of the season to cause havoc in the Saints defence. An attacking weapon himself, it will be on Hurrell to show what he can do defensively to stop Lafai here.
Jonny Lomax vs Marc Sneyd: Two halfbacks without the enigmatic partners collide in a battle best depicted as a war of the mind between two old chess masters always looking to move that one step ahead of their opponent. It’s a semi-final so game management will be key.
James Roby vs Andy Ackers: England’s past vs perhaps England’s present in terms of the number nine jersey. Andy Ackers is in scintillating form but James Roby is James Roby. Again the Dream Team hooker, he will look to nullify his opposite number’s attacking opportunities.
Where the game will be won and lost:
Salford give Saints plenty to be worried about, but their attacking potential may be slightly blunted by the absence of Brodie Croft. Without him Saints standard setting attack may be able to absorb most of what comes at it and the Champions certainly have the game management tools to subsequently drag themselves over the line.
Score Prediction: St Helens 18-14 Salford Red Devils