HEAD coach Kristian Woolf paid tribute to his side’s grit, determination and willingness to play until the last second after seeing Saints win back-to-back titles with an 8-4 win over Wigan.

With the scores level, Jack Welsby pounced upon a Tommy Makinson drop goal that had hit the posts to score after the final hooter.

It sparked wild scenes of jubilation – that continued during the replays, even before the video ref had given it the thumbs up.

It was a special ending to this most troubled of all seasons.

"You obviously don't expect the game to quite finish like that," Woolf said.

"It was outstanding work from young Jack Welsby - to chase that down and compete on every set - they're the things that you talk about all the time, play until the last minute and all that stuff that we preach all the time.


St Helens Star:

Big defence from Saints. Pic: Bernard Platt

"But to actually do that and get the result off the back of it like we did, Jack Welsby deserves an enormous amount of credit. That was an outstanding play, I'm really proud of the kid to get that result at a Grand Final, at this level.

"Credit to the group too, it was a great game of footy. I don't know if you will get a better game than that in terms of quality. Both teams are good defensively and they both showed that tonight.

"It was hard to find points. We just had to take chances when they came and Jack did that.

It had been an intense war of attrition for 80 minutes, with the scored locked at 4-4 courtesy of two Lachlan Coote penalties for Saints and a 66th minute Jake Bibby for Wigan.

But that was only the start of the drama, and Zak Hardaker had the chance to win it for Adrian Lam's side with a penalty from 45 metres but the centre dragged his effort wide with 50 seconds remaining.

Saints Jonny Lomax returned it with interest and those 30 yards he gained were invaluable as Saints teed up for Tommy Makinson’s drop goal as the hooter wailed.

The ball rattled the right-hand post and bouncing into the in-goal area, where Welsby beat a too nonchalant Wigan full-back Bevan French to the ball inches short of the dead-ball line.

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LMS chases Jackson Hastings. Pic: Bernard Platt

Woolf added: "Both teams were defending well and we had to keep going and plug away and wait for our opportunity. Defence wins big games.

"We played better footy last week in terms of setting up our play and executing out attacking play, but we were every bit as tough and as gritty as we needed to be. That is why we were able to put ourselves in that position.

"I'm extremely proud of the boys. We have had our ups and downs this season and it has not been an easy season in any way.

“The Covid stuff adds to that – but they have stuck together all the time and they have overcome obstacles and been willing to fight. There have been a couple of scenarios where it have been really tight and in general we have managed to come out on top.

“It's a great achievement. What a good group they are and how hard-working they are. They deserve every accolade as a group.

“Defence wins big games and Grand Finals.

St Helens Star:

Theo Fages tackles Willie Isa. Pic: Bernard Platt

"There is no doubt that it was the two best teams playing each other and the quality of the game tonight proved that again.

“But we are also the two best defensive teams in the competition. It was very hard to find points but we made it hard for them to find them too.”