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Super League Grand Final as it happened

MAJOR INCIDENTS (all times BST)

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By Pranav Soneji

2010: And that, ladies and gentlemen, is that. We've got some more rugby league coming up with the Four Nations down under but, until next year, the Super League goes into a well-deserved winter hibernation. I raise a pint of bitter in the general direction of the DW Stadium this evening. 'Night all.

2005: News of the Harry Sunderland trophy - the recipient is none other than Thomas Leuluai. Thoroughly deserved, although Sam Tomkins was also well within sniffing distance of the honour too.

coolinter on 606 "Congratulations to Wigan on a magnificent win. Wigan have been the best team in the league, in the play-offs and now in the Grand Finale! Fantastic season for all the players and staff and the fans."

2001: A visibly dejected Keiron Cunningham is embraced by players from both sides as he ends his illustrious career with a defeat. Another player moving on is Mark Riddell, but his expression is the opposite of his number nine rival.

BBC Radio 5 Live
BBC 5 live summariser and Hull KR coach Justin Morgan: "Whether on not Wigan can becomes 'dynasty' depends on how many of the young players can step up to the mark in the future. They will need to step up when the likes of Coley and Fielden move on. But the likes of the Tomkins brothers are going to be the cornerstone of this team for years to come."

FULL-TIME: ST HELENS 10-22 WIGAN

78 minutes: You have to wonder what sort of difference Kyle Eastmond and Leon Pryce would have had were they fit for this game for Saints. Not that Wigan care as Darrell Goulding absolutely pulverises Matt Gidley with a mega tackle.

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From Anon, text 81111: "If Sam Tomkins was a footballer how much would he be worth! Quality player! Wigan deserve to win. Best defence and defence wins championships."

74 minutes: TRY St Helens 10-22 Wigan No...do you thin...surely not? Matty Smith skims across the Wigan defence before launching a looping pass for Francis Meli to slide in from the left touchline. However, the seriously tough conversion is missed - and two converted tries for golden points seems a step too far.

72 minutes: Referee Silverwood, who has been flawless this evening, misses a blatant forward pass as Jamie Foster latches on to a pass on the right wing. But excellent defence from Sam Tomkins, who smothers the ball inside his own tryline from Foster's clever grubber.

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From George and Harold, in Port au Prince, Haiti, via text +44 7786200666: "Go Wigan!"

69 minutes: "Gone a bit scrappy" says referee Richard Silverwood after awarding a penalty to Wigan. Up steps Sam Tomkins with a 30-yard kick, but the young full-back makes an absolute slug's pocket of a mess, thumping the ball high and wide.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
From Sarah in Berkshire, text 81111: "A Leeds Rhinos fan reading your live feed, come on Wigan, they deserve to win this match after their performance this season!"

66 minutes: Great break from James Roby sets up Saints's big men to attempt to bulldoze the brick-thick Wigan defence, but the metaphorical JCBs that are James Graham and Sia Soliola cannot dent the cherry-and-white wall. Sensational defence.

63 minutes: Oh dear, the butterfingers virus is contagious as the oh-so reliable Keiron Cunningham grasses a simple pass. You can hear hopes of the Saints fans slowly fizzing into the ether.

61 minutes: Shocker for Matty Smith, the hat-trick hero against Warrington, spills a regulation ball inside Wigan's 10m line. Time to start thinking about the Harry Sunderland Trophy (for the Man of the Match) and this year's recipient. My money's on either Thomas Leuluai or Sam Tomkins.


60 minutes: Game over surely - Sean O'Laughlin shows superb agility as he slips heading for the line, spinning away from his marker before farming the ball out to Liam Farrell to burst through to touch down. However, the score goes upstairs to Ian Smith, who rightly adjudges that Farrell had obstructed a defender in the build-up to the score.

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From Keith, Melbourne, via text +44 7786200666: "Big Melbourne Storm supporter, listening to the Super League Grand Final from down under. we have our Grand Final today. Go Wigan..."


58 minutes: PEN St Helens 6-22 Wigan This final is slowly collapsing around the ears of the Saints players as referee Silverwood awards a penalty for a late tackle from Sia Soliola. Pat Richards flicks a V-sign - for the right reasons of course - stressing the importance of two points in front of the sticks. And Mark Riddell duly obliges for his first points of the match in front of the sticks.


56 minutes: Francis Meli is fortunate to keep his place on the Old Trafford turf following what is known as a "clothesline" in wrestling parlance on Sam Tomkins. But Wigan don't want two points, sending the ball into the corner for six attempts to extend their lead.

53 minutes: TRY St Helens 6-20 Wigan
Wigan sweep into Saints territory with a deep penalty kick, setting up the opportunity for the fleet-footed Sam Tomkins to latch onto Tommy Leuluai's inside pass and penetrate a sizeable gap in the Saints defence from 10m. What a tremendous reach too, it looked at one micro moment that he wouldn't be able to cross the line. Mark Riddell's converting isn't quite as metronomic as his pre-kick routine, but Saints are on the verge of something spectacular or a fourth successive GF defeat.

49 minutes: Matty Smith sends a flat pass for Jon Wilkin to run on to, but the stand-off spills the ball just metres from the whitewash. The Saints fans aren't best pleased.

48 minutes: An enormous roar erupts around Old Trafford as George Carmont spills a high ball on his 10m line. Scrum and feed for Saints.

47 minutes:
Paul Wellens bursts through Wigan's so-far water-tight defence but his killer pass for Jonny Lomax is brilliantly intercepted by Sam Tomkins, snuffing out what would have been a cast-iron try. Surely the full-back is a shoo-in for the number one shirt for England? Absolutely sensational defensive instincts.

44 minutes:
Tremendous belligerence from Thomas Leuluai sees the stand-off bounce a couple of tacklers before stretching his right arm out for the tryline. Referee Richard Silverwood calls for video referee Ian Smith's assistance - and the official spots a steal from Paul Wellens as Leuluai attempts to ground the ball. It's a penalty for Wigan - but Mark Riddell, left arm raised in his idiosyncratic style on his farewell appearance, misses the right upright. Saints will be chuffed.

42 minutes: Sad news for Pat Richards, who has an Achilles tendon injury and is on crutches.

1905: And we're off for another pulsating 40 minutes.


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From Alan, Alexandria, Egypt, via text +44 7786200666: "Up the pressure. Let's go Saints."
TGG in Egypt, keep the flag flying Alan.

1903: If ever there was a time to deliver a Churchillian speech to reinvigorate your deflated team... It's Mick Potter last shot of silverware before he leaves Saints for Bradford next season. He's a quiet man, but he needs to find something from deep within and wobble the diaphragm of every single one of his players if they are to avoid their fourth successive Grand Final defeat.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
From Pie-Eater Abroad, SE11, text 81111: "Traipsed around the whole of Kennington, and not a single pub is showing the Grand Final. Trying to follow on the radio, but I'm out-of-touch and don't recognise the names of the players. The idea of anything but a righteous defeat of the eternal enemy chills the blood. Come on Wigan!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)
From Brendan and Jo at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, via text +44 7786200666: "Come on the Saints in the NRL."
Saints being George Illawarra rather than Helens for the tasty match-up in the NRL Grand Final on Sunday against Sydney Roosters. Sorry Saints (Helens) fans.

HALF-TIME: ST HELENS 6-16 WIGAN

39 minutes: Serious blow for Wigan as Man of Steel Pat Richards limps off with a face that could curdle milk, which indicates he will play no part in the remainder of his final. Looks like it's an injury to the right leg.

36 minutes: Lovely break from Liam Farrell allows Wigan to post another surge deep inside Saints territory, but smart defence from Jonny Lomax averts the threat of try number four.

Twitter
Lancashire spinner Gary Keedy on Twitter: "This could be a cricket score if St's don't get a grip!"

28 minutes: TRY St Helens 6-16 Wigan
At last, a bit of "mongrel" from Saints, as the Aussies might say. Nifty footwork from Jon Wilkin sees the stand-off dance his way out of several tacklers inside the 10m line, allowing the England international to send a defence-splitting pass through to replacement Andrew Dixon, hitting the hole at pace and sliding over by the right post. Simple kick for Smith to convert. Game on.


25 minutes: Top play from Francis Meli with his side under the cosh, securing a deep high ball before bursting out of defence with a muscular run. But the Samoan is bundled into touch a minute later as Matty Smith's enterprising run sets up a potential attack on the left wing. Excellent defence from Darrell Goulding just moments after his try-scoring antics.

UKMaverick on 606 "Fantastic second try. Great rugby league. Saints look up against this now, need to get there heads in the game quick sharp..."

20 minutes: TRY St Helens 0-16 Wigan
Saints are in absolute tatters. Paul Deacon's high kick causes all sorts of mayhem inside Saints's 10m line as Jon Wilkin fumbles his catch as Wigan pounce on the loose ball. Two passes later and winger Darrell Goulding slides over for his 29th of the season, converted by Pat Richards. The faces of the Saints fans are puce - not too dissimilar to the red trim on their jerseys.

17 minutes: TRY St Helens 0-10 Wigan
Absolutely sensational score. Wigan surge up from their own half courtesy of a superb interchange between Paul Deacon and Tommy Leuluai, sending Sam Tomkins through to surge into space. The young full-back finds Leuluai, who in turns passes to half-back partner Deacon, who provides the deadly outside pass to Martin Gleeson to touch down under the posts for his second score of the game. Richards adds the extras with a kick he could make with one toe and blindfolded.

13 minutes: St Helens are bearing the full force of Wigan's attacking options as a high kick finds winger Pat Richards patting the ball back inside, only for Matty Smith to knock on. The resulting scrum sees Wigan spread play to the other side of the field but, following a spell of basketball passing on the fifth tackle, the Saints defence holds firm as the ball is thrown out of play.

10 minutes: England coach Steve McNamara is sitting in the stands beside England football assistant coach Stuart Pearce, didn't know Psycho was a rugby league fan. Jamie Foster can't quite cling on to a errant pass for a full-length shot at the posts, knocking the ball on and handing Wigan the head and feed at the scrum just outside the 10m line.

7 minutes: Not the best start for Jon Wilkin, punting a kick beyond the dead-ball line. Wigan are controlling the tempo of these opening stages although Sean O'Laughlin is fortunate to avoid a high challenge.

3 minutes: TRY St Helens 0-4 Wigan
Neither team is budging an inch in defence although a Saints mistake by Sia Soliola gifts Wigan possession on the 20m line. And quick hands from Pat Richards through the backs sees Martin Gleeson slide over for the opening score of the match near the corner. Referee Richard Silverwood goes upstairs, but one view is enough to award the try. But Pat Richards misses a tough kick from the right touchline.

1 minute: Strong set of six from Wigan as Jamie Foster's slip allows Wigan to camp on Saints's 10m line.

1805: Saints to kick off - tumultuous atmosphere around Old Trafford - Theatre of Dreams? We'll find out in 80 minutes.

1803: A few stats for you - Wigan's last victory in the Grand Final was back in 1998 and have since lost three times in the finale. Saints have lost three successive finals, all at the hands of Leeds, and are desperate to claim their fifth title and their first in four years. It's 1-1 in their previous two encounters this season - both away victories. The final is full of intriguing stories - but none can be more unexpected than Matt Smith's. The Salford-bound player looks set to start at scrum-half following the news that Kyle Eastmond will play no part in the final, even though he has been at The Willows on loan for the season. The whistle blows for the start of a minute's silence for Terry Newton.

1801: Rhydian Roberts (yeah, me neither) does the honours with a rousing rendition of Jerusalem, complete with brass band (including a bugler with a crazy mane of Jerry Sadowitz-style hair) as Martin "Chariots" Offiah, he of the dominant Wigan side of the late 80s and early 90s, sings along. And yes, Saints are in their away kit.

1759: And Madge has the prolific Pat Richards, the Super League's Man of Steel for 2010, to call upon. With 388 points this season, Richards, who became the fifth Australian to earn the title, needs one more point to surpass the Super League record points total set by former Wigan captain Andy Farrell. Wigan are in their traditional cherry and white colours, while every Saints player is covered by a track suit, so I'm not sure whether it's the away kit for them.

1754: Quick update on team news - Saints's Jonny Lomax plays his first match for almost a month and starts on the wing, with Francis Meli switching to centre while Jon Wilkin will start at stand-off alongside half-back partner Matty Smith. Wigan's Sean O'Laughlin starts after a pre-final injury worry, but it's as expected for Maguire's starting XIII.

1751: What a first season in Super League for Michael Maguire. Barely a year into the job, "Madge" has turned the perennial underachievers from the DW Stadium into a tight-knit team with the perfect blend of experience and raw unadulterated talent. Mrs Maguire is due to deliver the couple's third child any time now, so you could forgive the Australian if his thoughts drift elsewhere during the match. However, the 36-year-old has had plenty to deal with this season already. He lost his father in July and took a two-week break to return to Australia, but that didn't distract him from guiding his side to the top of the league, earning him the accolade of the Super League's Coach of the Year in the process.


LEEDSBLUENOSE on 606 "Not too bothered who wins to be honest, but if I had to pick anyone it would be Saints after the last three Grand Finals, but good luck to both teams and Wiganers, enjoy your day out."

1748: But it's not just Keiron Cunningham who says goodbye to St Helens this evening. Matt Gidley, Bryn Hargreaves and Matty Smith are also set to bow out, along with coach Mick Potter, who will join Bradford Bulls next season. It's the Australian's final opportunity to leave with silverware. Two seasons at Knowsley Road without silverware is considered unthinkable.


1743: The 15th final - and the second between the great Lancashire rivals - holds extra poignancy following the tragic death of former Wigan hooker Terry Newton last weekend. I've lost count of the times I've seen the words "rugby league" preceded by "family" in the past week - everyone knows everyone, so Newton's passing has left an indelible mark on everyone who has ever crossed swords or pints with the Great Britain international. One of those men is another number nine, who will end his illustrious rugby league career this evening. Expect a rousing reception for St Helens captain Keiron Cunningham before and after the match from both sets of supporters.

1739: The teams are in.
St Helens: Wellens, Foster, Gidley, Meli, Lomax, Wilkin, Smith, Graham, Cunningham, Hargreaves, Soliola, Flannery, Puletua. Replacements: Roby, Clough, Dixon, Emmitt.
Wigan: S. Tomkins, Goulding, Gleeson, Carmont, Richards, Deacon, Leuluai, Fielden, McIlorum, Coley, Hansen, J. Tomkins, S. O'Loughlin. Replacements: Prescott, Riddell, Paleaaesina, Farrell.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Dewsbury)

1735: So whose going to stick their neck out and call this? First against second. To all you neutrals - and there are plenty of you in the west Yorkshire region - thoughts? BBC Radio 5 live reporter George Riley thinks this game is too close to call while Hull KR coach Justin Morgan says it's a "classic". I would surely compromise my BBC impartiality if I called one team over the other (Wigan for me) but what do I know? I know you can tell me your thoughts via the 606 website or SMS via 81111 (UK) or +44 7786200666 (worldwide)

1730: After shedding tonnes blood, sweat and tears across the verdant pitches from London to Wrexham via Warrington to Castleford, eight muscle-pounding months of top quality rugby league come to its apogee at Old Trafford as Wigan, who finished top of the table at the end of the regular season, play arch-rivals St Helens at Old Trafford in Super League Grand Final.

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see also
St Helens 10-22 Wigan Warriors
02 Oct 10 |  My Club
Morgan's Grand Final verdict
01 Oct 10 |  Rugby League
Potter hopes to bow out with win
01 Oct 10 |  St Helens
Cup exit made us strong - Maguire
30 Sep 10 |  Wigan
Fairytale Saints finale for Smith
30 Sep 10 |  St Helens
Leeds 6-26 Wigan
25 Sep 10 |  My Club
St Helens 42-22 Huddersfield
24 Sep 10 |  My Club
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League


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