Saints celebrate third straight Super League Grand Final victory

By Sports Desk October 09, 2021

Kevin Naiqama was "overcome with emotion" after his two tries led St Helens to a 12-10 win over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford, their third straight Super League Grand Final success.

Saints' 2020 triumph had come in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic in front of empty stands, but they had their fans back to celebrate the three-peat.

It was a far less dramatic victory than that last-gasp defeat of Wigan Warriors, however, even if the game swung back and forth, bookended by Naiqama's tries.

His first effort came as he fought through two challenges on the try line to touch the ball down.

But Catalans were just two points behind at the break and made the most of Tommy Makinson's yellow card – the first in Grand Final history – as Mike McMeeken grounded the ball after Josh Drinkwater's kick hung in the air and eventually dropped his way.

A more precise kick at the other end provided the final twist, though, with Jonny Lomax's no-look effort bobbling into the arms of Naiqama. Lachlan Coote made no mistake with the decisive extras.

Catalans had clinched their Leaders' Shield against Saints in astonishing fashion last month, trailing by 18 points with four minutes to play at Magic Weekend and winning.

Yet there was no repeat of those St James' Park heroics, as Dragons failed to mount another attack in the closing minutes.

"I'm overcome with emotion," Naiqama told Sky Sports. "I love this team and I love this town."

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    Duhaney Park Red Sharks won their sixth consecutive National Club Championship (NCC) Grand Finals, and eighth overall, following a pulsating 40-18 win over Washington Blvd. Bulls on Saturday at the UWI Mona Bowl.

    The Bulls jumped to a 6-0 lead early but the Red Sharks responded well and held a narrow 16-12 lead at halftime.

    In the second half, the Red Sharks took control of the game, running in five tries whilst the Bulls could only muster one additional score.

    Red Sharks were led by fullback Javian Bryan with eight points from four goals, Kenneth Walker and Jenson Morris each scored two tries whilst Miguel Facey, Joseph Shae, Chevaughn Bailey (MVP) and Andrew Simpson each scored a try. 

    For the Bulls, Lawrence Drummond led with six points from three goals and Shamoy Stewart, Oshane Edie and Daniel Morrison scored a try apiece.

    “We were a bit scrappy, we had too many knock-ons, but to score 40 points we had to chance our arm a bit. In the first half, we moved from what works for us which is using three to four tackles to lay a platform, instead, we were going one in and looking to play off the second tackle,” said winning coach Roy Calvert.

    “In the second half we went back to basics and scored 24 points. Hats off to the Bulls, they gave it to us, but my boys stood up and pulled it off and I am very proud of the team.”

    Meanwhile, Bulls’ coach Derone Davis believed fatigue was a key factor in the loss.

     “It was unbelievable being our first grand finals. We started well, we dominated the middle in the first 40 minutes, which was our game plan,” he said.

    “Hakeem, Makaya and Kyle were especially damaging carrying the ball and tackling and that kept us in it. We started the second 40 positively but fatigue set in, our skills broke down and we lost the script. Congrats to the Red Sharks on a well-deserved win”

    Earlier, Jamaica Defence Force Warriors were comfortable 16-0 winners over West Kingston Hyenas in the play-off for third place.

    Courtney Davies, Demar Williams and Okeano Stephenson each scored tries while Nicolai Kennedy kicked two goals. 

    In the NCC U19 Grand Finals, Portmore Rugby League Club defeated Washington Blvd. Bulls 4-0 courtesy of a try from Rasheed Pencle.

    Meanwhile, in the other U19 club game St Bess Rugby League Club defeated Liguanea Dragons 26-0 for third place.

     

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    Defending champions Duhaney Park Red Sharks face Washington Boulevard Bulls, the latter in their first decider in the Jamaica Rugby League National Club Championship Grand Final on Saturday, September 17 at the University of West Indies Mona Bowl (kick-off 4 pm, local time). 

    The Bulls, who joined the NCC in 2017, beat Jamaica Defence Force Warriors 24-18 in their semi-final, whilst the Red Sharks qualified for their sixth straight championship tie - and 14th in the last 16 years – by beating West Kingston Hyenas, 54-6.

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    Adrian Brown with two tries and two goals led the way for Duhaney in their triumph.

    “The semis was about getting our combinations right as we are still looking for the perfect game,” said Head Coach Roy Calvert. “The finals will be exciting, we are going for victory and are confident of achieving it but know we need to play a certain way to win. Bulls are a good team and have been on our heels all season.”

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    Event organisers halted play late on Thursday and all day Friday following news of Her Majesty's passing at the age of 96.

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    "The Wentworth event will give players, caddies, staff, volunteers and spectators the opportunity to come together across the weekend, not only to express their condolences but also to celebrate the extraordinary life of Her Majesty.

    "The second round of the BMW PGA Championship will resume at 6.40am on Saturday morning and all original second round tee times will remain the same. 

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    "Across the weekend at Wentworth, black ribbons will be made available for people to wear and flags will continue to fly at half-mast."

    "In addition, there will be a two-minute silence at 9.50am on Saturday morning across the venue to commemorate the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, with the proclamation of King Charles III being shown on the television screens in the Championship Village from 10am."

    Tommy Fleetwood, Andy Sullivan and Viktor Hovland held a joint-lead with an eight-under par 64 when play came to a stop on Thursday.

    England's third Test against South Africa at The Oval will also resume on Saturday, while the Super League clash between Huddersfield Giants and Salford Red Devils will go ahead as planned.

    Friday's meeting between Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos had already been given the green light to take place as it is being held in Perpignan in the south of France.

    However, all Premier League and English Football League fixtures this weekend have been called off, as has Saturday's undisputed middleweight championship bout between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall.

    The fight at the O2 Arena in London has been provisionally postponed until October 15.

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