JACK Welsby has a tattoo of Saints' 2020 Grand Final win etched on to his left leg - and after putting another significant mark on another of rugby league’s showpiece occasions it looks like he will have to make room for plenty more.

Eight months after his last gasp try secured the Grand Final, the 20 year old came off the bench to help set up the try that sent Saints on their way to their first Challenge Cup Final win in 13 years.

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The game was poised at 12-apiece 10 minutes into the second half with the momentum slowly ebbing Saints’ way when the key moment came.

After cleaning up a loose Lachlan Coote offload, displaying a calmness and composure beyond his years, Welsby crabbed across the face of the tryline to pull out a couple of defenders to create a two-on-one for Kevin Naiqama to send Tommy Makinson in at the corner.

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Saints never relinquished that lead – and a controlled, composed last half hour kept the Tigers at bay to bring home the trophy last seen at Knowsley Road in 2008 when Welsby was aged just seven.

Speaking immediately after the match, the former Blackbrook Junior explained the story behind the try.

“It was a bit of a loose ball and I thrive off stuff like that.

“We do a lot of chaos stuff in training.

“I wasn’t flustered when it came out like that – when I got that ball in my hands I was only thinking about one thing and that was running.

“Thankfully it fell into shape and a bit of brilliant skill from Kevin Naiqama and you wouldn’t want anyone else in that corner to score other than Tommy Makinson.

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“It was a really special moment,” he said.

Displaced from the centre position following Mark Percival’s return, Welsby has been dropped down to the bench – but in a 17-man game he remains an invaluable component of the team.

However, the game panned out differently in some respects than had been planned for Welsby, who had been lined up to spell Morgan Knowles at loose forward and maybe even a spell at nine.

Welsby explained: “I came on for Morgs and was there to try and replicate what he does for the team. That is to bring a lot of energy, do the tough stuff but also to be able to shift the ball.

“I was ready to do anything for the team.

“We always talk as a group what Al, Morgs and Louie bring at the start – but me, Leesy, Iggy and Marra spoke about our impact off the bench and we said we are going to have to up it.

“At 12-6 I felt like we did do that.

That plan was ripped up when Theo Fages went off with a shoulder injury.

“Theo went off and I ended up slotting in the halves and I can;t remember the last time I played there for this club.

“To get on there I was a bit nervous when I was told at half time but as soon as I slotted back in there, I felt comfortable, especially with the likes of Cootey and Jonny Lomax bossing me about, it was good.

Although Welsby did not play in the 2019 defeat by Warrington, he was part of that squad that year – and here was a group that wanted to make amends.

It was a terrific tussle – one in which Saints had to battle hard to stay in during the second quarter when two quickfire tries put the Tigers on top.

“There was a lot of talk on how we fell short in 2019 and wanted to make that right.

“We did it tough and Cas really challenged us in some areas at times for long periods, but thankfully we got over that line.

“We were losing 12-6 at half time but we were still in the game we spoke a lot in the week about taking Cas the full 80 minutes, pushing ourselves and backing ourselves in a lot of areas that go unseen.

“The chat was calm – the older players re-assured us all and we were confident all the way through even though there was a bit of a time when we conceded two quick tries.”

Saints withstood plenty of pressure but were back on level terms within two minutes of the restart when skipper James Roby scored.

One of the keys to shifting the momentum back Saints’ way was the way the pack turned up, effortlessly eating up the yards in the blistering direct heat of the National Stadium.

Welsby undoubtedly sees the headlines that the scorers get for executing the big plays, but he was quick to attribute the success to the middles who laid the platform.

“The list of out middles impressing was endless – whether that is Robes turning up for the play where he scores, Kyle being involved with the try at the end, Louie outstanding from the start, Big Al making the yards.

“They call it the engine room for a reason, because if you win that battle you are more than likely win the game.

“Leesy in only his second game back was enormous for us with his energy and enthusiasm. It was the same from Iggy and Kyle as well.

“Leesy stood out for me – playing alongside him and what he does for the team – might go unnoticed but we don’t miss it.

“Cas had their moments but we seemed to roll and the longer the game went the better we got.”

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And of course, with 40,000 fans inside the sun-baked stadium, the atmosphere was taken up a noy considerably from the behind-closed-doors Grand Final in Hull last November.

Welsby was delighted be able to share this with the fans, his family and friends.

“It was a special day, one that the fans have waited a long time for,” he said.

“It changed everything with fans there.

“I’ve won one with no fans there, one with half capacity and hopefully we’ll win one with full capacity.

“As soon as they are all back in there the better it’ll be something special.

“But I was just glad to have my family here this time – my mum, my dad and my girlfriend, and my mates have all made the trip so it is special.

Although Saints are back-to-back champions, the TWS has been yearning to have this special trophy in its cabinet for the first time since they left Knowsley Road.

The players were glad to finally get it over the line and get that monkey off their backs. And it was especially rewarding having been achieved in the middle Covid in which plenty have had to make sacrifices in their daily lives.

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“We have not won this since 2008 - I was seven then and can’t even remember it.

“It’s been a long time and we deserve it.

“With all this Covid going on it has been a long year for everyone.

“To get over the line and win is all we talked about. As long as we stuck together, it was always going to be hard to beat us and we proved that,” he said.

Pictures: SWpix.com