Yates’ verdict: Only one thing can deny St Helens a Grand Final victory over Leeds Rhinos

Leeds beat Wigan in their semi-final play-off at the DW Stadium, while Saints defeated Salford 19-12 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

When it comes down to Grand Finals, Saints have often finished second best to their old foes Leeds Rhinos.

Four defeats against their West Yorkshire rivals at Old Trafford (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011) tells its own story but the defending champions will be hell-bent on laying that bogey once and for all and go on to lift the trophy for a record-breaking fourth successive year on Saturday.

Jack Welsby of St Helens battles for possession with James Bentley of Leeds Rhinos during the Betfred Super League between St Helens and Leeds Rhinos at Totally Wicked Stadium on June 23, 2022

Earlier this season, when they were struggling to pull away from the bottom rungs of the Betfred Super League ladder, I suggested the Loiners were still a good outside bet in the race for Old Trafford.

Whether it was a moment’s inspiration or a lucky guess, I’m not sure - but I cannot in all honesty see them clearing the final hurdle, despite their upturn in form, emphasised by the manner they overturned Wigan Warriors in the semi-final play-off at the DW Stadium.

How both teams handle the pressure of the occasion will be key to the eventual outcome but Saints’ recent success in the competition under astute Australian coach Kristian Woolf and the experience the players - both young and old - will have already gained will put them in the right frame of mind to deliver the goods.

By no stretch of the imagination will it be any easy task against a Leeds’ outfit who have lost only two of their last 11 games but I feel only a below-par performance will deny St Helens a ninth victory in the end of season showpiece.