WELL here we are again! The Betfred Super League Grand Final....albeit in very different circumstances from twelve months ago.

However, despite it not being the big finale showcase at Old Trafford in front of 70,000+ fans, we could be set to be one of the best battles for years.

As per my column last week, my wish came true for a Saints-Wigan derby final. Clearly the two best teams in the Betfred Super League this season, there is very little to split these local enemies.

The Warriors pipped Saints to the League Leaders shield after winning the recent clash between the two finalists. However, I’m sure Kristian Woolf’s men will have learnt a lot from that game, and something that they took into last Friday’s semi-final against the Catalan Dragons.

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The French visitors came with one intention; to try and bully Saints and upset their game plan.

This was something they had joy with in the Challenge Cup semi final a couple of years back, but a very different story this time. I commented after the game, what a totally professional, disciplined and clinical performance it was.

The Saints completely frustrated the Dragons, absorbing everything they could throw and went on to win by 8 tries to nil, 48-2 to reach their second consecutive Grand Final.

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Wigan weren’t quite as convincing as they overcome a very poor Hull FC side on Thursday.

Man of the match Jackson Hastings will also play his second consecutive GF after leading Salford to the final last season before moving to Wigan in pre-season. He will be a key player, as will Man of Steel contender Bevan French.

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I spoke about the battle between him and his fellow Man of Steel finalist Lachlan Coote a few weeks ago when the two met. I think both of these players are key to their team’s success.

Other key battles to look out for are hookers Sam Powell Vs James Roby. Powell has probably had his best ever season with the Warriors, and although missed the semi due to a family matter will be back Friday for the big one.

Roby does what James Roby does...leads from the front, be in in attack or defence and if the Saints pack can get on top, will no doubt cause the opposition all sorts of trouble.

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Finally, two guys who will be desperate for the win...in what will be both their final career appearances are James Graham and Sean O’Loughlin. I said in last week’s column what a fitting end it would be for two iconic figures of our great game. Whatever happens, I congratulate both on stellar careers, and wish them the very best for the next chapter.

Speaking earlier about the Steve Prescott MBE Man of Steel award, many congratulations to Castleford Paul McShane as he took the honour for the 2020 season.

Controversial in some peoples eyes, mainly due to the Tigers poor season and failure to reach the playoffs. However, this is an individual award, and nobody can deny McShane’s performances, many a game single handedly carrying his team, be it from his regular dummy half position or stepping into the halves. Whatever people’s opinions, he is a prime example of resilience and hard work. He has certainly had his challenges throughout his career, but never gave up and backed his own ability, and now holds the highest individual accolade in the game. It couldn’t happen to a more humble man too.

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Back to the big one! I truly believe this could be the best game in the Betfred Super League for a number of years. It will no doubt be a fiery affair, as a Grand Final should be...but I think if Saints can absorb Wigan’s aggression and give it back plus some!...we’ll have too much creativity with the ball.

Saints, like last Friday have to be patient and disciplined, but when get their opportunities be clinical with their execution. If this is the case I’m going for Saints to win (6/5 with Betfred) by 8pts and win their first back to back title since 2000...when we beat Wigan!