Naiqama, who scored two tries, speaks: “I’m so overwhelmed right now with emotion … I love this team, I love this town … I want to thank the players and staff, and my wife and my daughter … I still can’t believe that we’ve done it … I was in so much pain from getting a head knock [after the second try] … we’re going to celebrate and enjoy this win for the next couple of nights.”
Rob Burrow is on hand, with his daughter and wife, to present the trophy. “Thank you so much mate, for everything you’ve done for the game … you’re a legend,” Naiqama says to Burrow.
“It brings back so many memories [being at Old Trafford], and we’re just so incredibly proud of Rob,” says his wife Lindsey.
8.06pm BST 20:06
Commiserations to the Dragons, who looked to have one hand on the Super League trophy as we moved into the final quarter … but in the end, the tenacity and the experience of St Helens shone through. Naiqama’s second of the try sealed it.
8.01pm BST 20:01
Full time! Dragons 10-12 St Helens!
Saints have done it … they’ve won three Grand Finals in a row! It was Dragons that topped the league at the end of the season, but it’s St Helens who are the champions! What a tense, attritional match that was. Memorable stuff.
at 8.03pm BST
8.00pm BST 20:00
79 mins: Time nearly up. The Dragons have the ball but are pinned back nearly under their posts. The tackling from Stains is relentless. The noise from the crowd is immense … the ball is kicked into touch by the Dragons and it looks like Stains have done it!
7.57pm BST 19:57
77 min: A howler from Tom Davies as he fails to field a kick for the corner by Coote and knocks it on, and into touch instead. The Saints celebrate. The Dragons are not happy.
at 7.58pm BST
7.54pm BST 19:54
74 min: Tomkins makes a strong burst through the defensive line but he slips as he moves into space near the try line. The Dragons put another kick up on the fifth tackle. Percival concedes another goalline drop-out. The French team come again, but a hospital pass for Tomkins sees the move break down. Woolf claps from his seat in the stand. Five minutes now for Saints to hold on. Five minutes for the Dragons to fight back.
at 7.55pm BST
7.52pm BST 19:52
72 min: Dragons move into the danger zone from a St Helens’ point of view. Drinkwater puts a kick up and it’s fumbled into touch behind the try line.
“This game has been tighter than a submarine door,” says the Sky co-commentator, whose name escaped me.
7.49pm BST 19:49
70 min: I just received an email from Barbara Schwandt.
It says: “TyyyyyytyyytttttthghrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrddrrrrrrrrrrrrrdrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrffsEwwwwd”
67 min: In the stands, McNamara looks disgusted and he shakes his head. Woolf, in contrast, has a grin on his face. He knows that’s a huge blow in the story of this match. But we have more than 10 minutes and more still to play. There is a party atmosphere in the stadium all of a sudden, all the more so when McMeeken is penalised for a high hit.
at 7.47pm BST
7.42pm BST 19:42
Try! 66 min: Dragons 10-12 St Helens (Naiqama)
Lomax sidefoots a grubber kick which is perfectly weighted, towards the try line, to his right. Naiqama is fastest to it, pouncing on the ball as it sits up nicely for him despite a forest of bodies all around. There are two tacklers on hand including Yaha but they can’t keep him out. That had been coming in the last few minutes and the kick from Lomax to create it simply oozed class. And we are all square with the kick to come … Naiqama took a bang to the head as he scored that and is receiving treatment, and the referee appears to have put that incident on report after use of the knees by Yaha … Coote adds the kick and Saints lead again!
at 8.05pm BST
7.40pm BST 19:40
65 min: Bousquet is mercilessly triple-tackled as the Dragons try to make inroads. The ball is soon back with St Helens, who are looking the stronger and fitter side just at the minute.
7.37pm BST 19:37
63 min: Saints work the ball left then right as they threaten the Dragons’ line. But there’s a knock-on and the move breaks down. McNamara, the Dragons coach, gets to his feet and applauds that like his side have scored a try. The clock stops with 17 minutes left for a player to receive treatment. You sense there is a big finish coming.
7.35pm BST 19:35
60 min: Into the final quarter. Saints burst down the right wing with Batchelor. He tries to feed the ball inside to Makinson, with the Dragons defence really badly stretched … but Tomkins, cleverly, is perfectly positioned to nab the ball and release the pressure on his team’s defence.
7.31pm BST 19:31
57 min: St Helens are back to full strength, of course, following the yellow card for Makinson. Catalans move through the gears as they advance into the Saints’ half. Maloney tries a low kick towards the try line but it comes to nothing. Still, the Dragons are looking very composed and using the ball well when they have it. It’s Saints who need to up the tempo, trailing as they do by four points.
at 7.33pm BST
7.29pm BST 19:29
55 min: Tomkins’ fitness was a doubt before this, and his knee is heavily strapped, but he does not appear to be having any issues with his movement. Now though, for him and for all the players, it’s about fitness, endurance, and physical conditioning as we move towards the final quarter. It’s tiring just watching it, the fitness of these players is always something to behold.
at 7.29pm BST
7.26pm BST 19:26
53 min: Dean Whare has gone off injured for the Dragons, which is a blow for them. The Sky touchline reporter says he was holding his ‘pec’, so I guess his pectoral or his chest.
at 7.26pm BST
7.22pm BST 19:22
Try! 49 min: Dragons 10-6 St Helens (McMeeken)
The Dragons lead! A kick is put up to the corner, it’s patted back to around the try line after teams from both teams contest for it … McMeeken is lurking. He flops down, scores, and celebrates wildly! And so do the fans! Maloney drills over a fantastic conversion. Big, big drama at Old Trafford and a glimpse of glory for the Dragons!
at 7.59pm BST
7.20pm BST 19:20
49 min: Drinkwater produces a stunning kick to touch for the Dragons, to the left corner. Saints are pinned back in their half. Pressure on the team who have won the previous two finals …
7.18pm BST 19:18
47 min: A fine interception by Welsby relieves the pressure on the Saints defence following the penalty against Makinson.
7.16pm BST 19:16
45 min: Yellow card for St Helens! Makinson
It’s 10 minutes in the bin for the Saints man. Catalans now with a man advantage but they are two points behind.
at 7.17pm BST
7.16pm BST 19:16
45 min: Langi runs on to a pass on the left wing and it takes three men to bring him down. Maloney then tries a grubber kick from a central position but it’s repelled. There is a kick to the corner, Yaha is smashed into touch, and the referee is having a look on the video … it looked much worse on first viewing and at full speed, it seems to me. It was high but it wasn’t maliciously so.
at 7.29pm BST
7.13pm BST 19:13
43 min: On replay it looks like Maloney didn’t miss touch: Coote dived to pat the ball back in, but his foot was in touch, so that was a let-off for St Helens. This is tense, anyway, with a less frenetic pace to the match now, but each side knowing that every point, every tackle, every kick is going to be crucial.
7.11pm BST 19:11
42 min: Mata’utia is penalised for a high tackle as he tries to run a kick back. But Maloney misses touch with his kick and that’s a bad error which gifts possession back to St Helens.
7.08pm BST 19:08
Here we go – all to play for – in 40 minutes or so we will have new Super League champions.
at 7.09pm BST
6.56pm BST 18:56
Some half-time thoughts from Aaron Bower at Old Trafford:
‘And breathe. It is finely poised at Old Trafford, which is perhaps all the neutrals could have hoped for heading into half-time. St Helens lead by two, but if you look beyond the scoreline, you feel as though the greater moments have belonged to their reigning champions. Their kicking game has turned Catalans around more than the Dragons’ has done to the Saints, and the amount of defending the Frenchmen had to do in the opening quarter could yet be decisive as the Grand Final enters its final moments. This is, however, shaping up to be a classic.’
6.52pm BST 18:52
Half-time! Dragons 4-6 St Helens
That was full-on. St Helens came roaring into the final, and had the Dragons under massive pressure early on. Naiqama scored a fine try, but you sense the Dragons will be satisfied with only trailing by two points at this stage after a relentless first 40. See you soon for more.
6.51pm BST 18:51
39 min: Davies of the Dragons, who has been smashed a couple of times himself, makes a brilliant tackle on Grace after a fine pass by Coote for Saints.
6.50pm BST 18:50
37 min: St Helens’ Pa’asi and Mata’utia absolutely double-smash Davies in another bone-juddering tackle. This is making my body ache just watching it. Now Roby is taken high. A couple of minutes to go until half-time.
6.45pm BST 18:45
34 min: Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook of St Helens, who has just come on, appears to take out Tomkins in the air. He holds his hands up, but players from both sides rush in for a bit of a dust-up anyway. It’s a penalty only for the Dragons. Some might say that was a touch lucky for “LMS”, even if he was apparently pulling out of the challenge, it was still a very dangerous one.
at 7.37pm BST
6.43pm BST 18:43
32 min: The sides are cancelling out each other a little at the moment, if smashing into each other at full pelt every couple of seconds can be called such a thing. And now there’s another fight!
6.41pm BST 18:41
30 min: TheDragons run the ball out from under their sticks through Davies. Makinson crunches into what looked like a no-arms tackle and flattens him. Referee is happy, though.
6.38pm BST 18:38
Penalty! 27 min: Dragons 4-6 St Helens (Maloney)
Dragons close the gap a little as Maloney smacks a straightforward kick through the middle.