SAINTS produced a clinical, patient Grand Final performance to end the Salford fairytale and ensure that the year in which they have been untouchable in the Super League received its just deserts.

It was a performance in which Saints took their regular season rugby into the big game and this time made it count – and that will no doubt finally slay the monkey that has clung to their backs for too long.

In many ways Saints’ 23-6 triumph over the Red Devils was similar to the semi-final win over Wigan – the only difference being the opposition’s sheer doggedness not to crumble and collapse once the game was lost.

The game plan from the off was to start strong, pinning Salford back in their own end with some aggressively tackling and shrewd kicking.

There was no rush to do anything fancy to break the deadlock when that early territorial advantage had yielded no try breakthrough, but rather like a chess master plotting their next move Saints ensured they kept turning the screw – waiting for that opportunity.

Fittingly when it came, the first try fell to Morgan Knowles – and unlike at Wembley, there was no denying him this time after he took a lovely short pass from Alex Walmsley.

Big Al was one of the Twin Towers of strength, alongside Harry Sunderland Award winner Luke Thompson, who kept thundering the ball into the Salford line, sending them backwards and giving Saints a real platform to play off.

As game as Salford were, their pack never seemed to be able that same level of hole-punching penetration.

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With the opening quarter – just like the semi – played exclusively in the Red Devils half it seemed a matter of time until Saints would part that defence and make that territorial advantage count.

And after some terrier-like harassment from Mark Percival in chasing the kick caught by Salford wing Ken Sio, Saints doubled their lead.

It was a relatively simple set piece from the scrum, straight off the coaching flip-board, with skipper James Roby feeding Zeb Taia from the base of the 10m scrum for the try to make it, with Lachlan Coote’s second goal, 12-0.

Any thoughts of sitting back and watching a cricket score ensue were soon dispelled when a momentary clocking off, with a sloppy play the ball for once giving Salford a good ball set.

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And once they got within striking range Man of Steel, who probed and kicked smartly all game, sent Jake Bibby over, with Krisnan Inu’s boot halving the extras.

It was the jolt Saints needed and they swiftly ratcheted it back up to withstand the Devils revival.

There were some brave efforts out there, too, with Roby skippering through the pain barrier until his 53rd minute replacement by the energetic Aaron Smith and Tommy Makinson playing on despite dislocating his shoulder.

Crucially Saints centre Percival chased up his own diagonal grubber to stretch Saints’ lead on 50 minutes and from there it was simply about managing the game, nudging the lead along with a couple of Coote penalties and a Makinson drop goal.

It looked like prop Thompson was going to play the full 80, before succumbing to cramp eight minutes from time.

But what an effort from a front rower. The prop took the man of the match, but Coote’s display at the back – unflappable fielding the ball, chiming into the line and adding that extra bit of control – was also worthy of consideration for the Harry Sunderland.

The beauty of this team is that the individual plaudits didn’t matter – it has very much been an all for one and one for all campaign, one of the many strands of the Holbrook legacy that Saints will hopefully take forward.