Bottlers? Flattering to deceive? Certainly been the case with St Helens over the years but in 2019, their dreams of returning to success became a reality as they swept all aside to claim their seventh Super League title!
And fully deserved, finishing top of the pile by a record 16 points, with a record amount with 52 in total, a 100% home winning record, they surely were the real deal this season.
Many speculate they were fortunate in their final day out, others perhaps jealous of their immense quality clear demonstrated as we look back at the team to beat over in the Northern Hemisphere!
Best Result: St Helens 23-6 Salford Red Devils
They recorded far heavier victories against others this season but their result against Salford Red Devils at Old Trafford saw them claim their first title in five years, the obvious choice.
Also their first in 13 years against as many players on the pitch but regardless of how it was won, the Saints were superior on the night.
The match was blank for 15 minutes but the Saints finally broke through Salford’s defence as Morgan Knowles crashed over, soon followed by Zeb Taia ghosting through for their second try.
They led 12-0 and it looked ‘could kill’ but the Red Devils responded in superb style as Jake Bibby raced over in the corner following some superb work by Jackson Hastings.
That and with Tui Lolohea having a try disallowed left many angry yet set out a clear intent that the Saints would not have it easy.
But the Saints responded as Mark Percival soon went over and with Lachlan Coote adding five goals, plus a late drop-goal by golden boot Tom Makinson, the Saints surged home to victory.
An exit to remember for Justin Holbrook, having worked his magic since May 2017, taking the Saints back to the top and making them the dominant force in the Super League once more.
Worst Result: St Helens 4-18 Warrington Wolves
As one final was to be remembered, the other rather not as they conceded the Coral Challenge Cup final, the first ever time to big rivals Warrington Wolves.
Saints started as red hot favourites, with the BBC pundits unanimously predicting they would get the job done, but Warrington had other ideas.
Knowles had a try very controversially disallowed early on, and from that, the Saints just could not move on as the Wolves responded with two of their own.
Joe Philbin and Ben Murdoch-Masila charged over to open up a 12-0 lead, though Saints then scored through Theo Fages, Lance Todd Trophy winner Daryl Clark scampered over late on to seal the win.
A day to forget for the Saints, for everyone involved as supporters and staff voiced their objections on certain officiating calls but regardless, was a tough yet crucial learning curve, one that perhaps served them good considering how they ended the season shortly after.
Main Man: Tom Makinson
A very tough call considering they boasted the best squad in the league but current golden boot winner Tom Makinson is their main man.
The nippy speedster topped the competition’s try scoring with 23 and metres with 3803, even managing 113 tackle busts for good measure.
Such statistics are not too surprising as he is always a devastating returner and general runner of the ball.
He has always proved a threat since coming onto the scene, effectively helping him become a fans favourite.
Arguably one of their greatest wingers in their clubs’ history as well as the summer era, Makinson will return as a difficult player to overcome once again in 2020 without a doubt?!
Predicted 1st – Finished 1st
Was this ever in doubt? They dominated last year throughout and with a highly similar looking squad and coaching staff, they were always in for a similar fate in 2019.
With the controversial departure of Ben Barba, in came Coote, who attained a Super League title, League Leaders Shield and a Dream Team spot in his first season in England.
Not bad for someone ‘overrated’, worthy of his own goal kicking chant and supporters’ song perhaps?!
Well his exciting attacking skills, kicking game and return of the ball is what made his pose such a threat as he was able to catch the opposition off guard throughout 2019.
As did they all as they played together as a unit, every player on the pitch posing a dangerous threat for all others.
They should return as good, if not better in 2020 as the Saints look set for a period of dominance in Super League once again.