Aussie coach Woolf dreams big with Saints

·3-min read

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf says it would be "absolutely unbelievable" to win a third successive grand final.

The reigning champions reached a record-extending 13th grand final thanks to an emphatic 36-8 win over Leeds that sets up an Old Trafford meeting next Saturday with Catalans Dragons.

Centre Mark Percival and winger Regan Grace scored two tries apiece and Kevin Naiqama was also among the scorers on his final home appearance as he prepares to return home to Australia.

Australian mentor Woolf mastered a successful title defence in his first season with the Saints in 2020 and says it would be special if they could match the feat of Leeds, who won three grand finals in a row from 2007-09.

"It would be absolutely unbelievable," Woolf said. "In today's era, you have to invest so much energy and emotional effort and so much sacrifice to win a competition and to win it twice is incredible because you've got to get yourself up and go and do that again.

"This group of men is so special and this town needs to be really proud of them for the hunger they have shown to put themselves in this position, it's absolutely outstanding.

"They've put themselves in a position where they can go on and achieve something special. But it's certainly not done yet."

The Saints actually made the worst possible start as their Australian full-back Lachlan Coote fumbled the first high ball inside the opening minute.

Yet they were good enough to keep their opponents out and Coote, the Hull KR-bound player who now competes internationally for Scotland, very quickly more than made amends.

His cut-out pass enabled Grace to open the scoring with his 20th try of the season and, after leaping into the air to prevent Leeds finding touch with a penalty, Coote extended his side's lead to 8-0 with two penalty goals.

It looked a game too far for Leeds, whose coach Richard Agar had no complaints over the result.

"We were beaten by the better team," he said. "We weren't good enough.

"We didn't deliver to anywhere near the standard we needed to. It's a disappointing night and it will hurt but, at the same time, you have to pay tribute to the opposition because they were really impressive.

"We played a team that would have beat anybody tonight playing the way they did. If they're the benchmark, we've a bit to do to catch up but we're heading in the right direction."

Defeat brought to an end the Leeds careers of stand-off Rob Lui, who is returning home to Australia, and centre Konrad Hurrell, who is thought to be heading to St Helens.

Agar paid tribute to the departing duo.

"Rob Lui has had a wonderful career and he's a champion bloke," he said. "He's in tears in there, he's such a popular guy within our club.

"Konny has made a big impression on our club. He's such a popular and engaging guy and I know the fans love."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting