I’ve been thinking how to frame up this Grand Final and, for me, it’s the case for and against a Salford win.
If Salford were to win, it would be not only one of the most incredible individual results, but story-wise probably the most incredible story in Super League’s history.
So, what is the case for a Salford win?
Well, let’s look at what they did to Wigan Warriors last week – they demolished them. Two weeks after going there and losing, and a week after beating Castleford Tigers 22-0 at their home ground they go to Wigan and destroy them.
They’ve got arguably the coolest-headed kicker in the competition in Krisnan Inu, who I don’t think has a pulse, let alone gets his heart-rate up. So if they need a clutch kick and it’s a tight game, they’ve got him.
The Red Devils have got plenty of players with Grand Final experience – Mark Flanagan, Gil Dudson, Lee Mossop, Josh Jones.
The aforementioned Inu has played in three NRL Grand Finals and Tyrone McCarthy played in the 2009 Challenge Cup final with Warrington Wolves as well, so they have plenty of big-game experience and it shouldn’t faze them.
Then they’ve got Niall Evalds, who finished as second-highest try-scorer in Super League on 22 with Leeds Rhinos’ Ash Handley, so they’ve got strike out wide as well.
And, of course, they’ve got Jackson Hastings – the Man of Steel, the best half-back in the competition and the best half-back we’ve seen in this competition in quite a while.
I’ll throw something else into the mix: In May, they went to the Totally Wicked Stadium and, after going 16-0 down inside the first 12 minutes, pushed St Helens to within a minute of the game and it took a late James Bentley try for the hosts to win it 32-30.
So they shouldn’t fear St Helens because they’ve gone there and, in a really high-scoring game, just come out on the wrong side of it. Yes, it’s a defeat, but it’s the manner of the defeat you need to give you courage.
What’s the case against Salford? Simply that St Helens are the most outstanding side in Super League this year.
You almost need say no more about them, because they’ve been that good and that dominant. Just a mere mention of St Helens equates with brilliance and excellence this year.
Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley are the men up front Dudson and Mossop are going to have try to contend with; there’s strike in Kevin Naiqama and Tommy Makinson, their top try-scorer; Lachlan Coote, a Man of Steel nominee, is at full-back; there’s James Roby – I could go through all of those.
We all know what the story would be and that’s a Salford win, and if they’re in the game with 20 minutes gone then I think they’ve got a huge chance.
Someone said a great quote to me this week: “Win the game in the first 20 minutes, score the points after that.” If, at about 6.20pm, there’s one score in it or they’re level-pegging, we’re in for a roller-coaster ride.
I’ve played in two Grand Finals and, certainly in the first one, we were blitzed by Bradford Bulls early on. After a while, you’re in the biggest hole, in this cavernous stadium and you just can’t see any way back into the game.
But if Salford are very much in the wrestle and taken what sting is going to come out of St Helens then they’ve got a great chance.