|Wigan Warriors (0) 4|
|St Helens (2) 8|
|Try: Welsby Goals: Coote 2|
Teenager Jack Welsby scored a last-gasp try as St Helens retained their Super League crown with the most dramatic climax in Super League Grand Final history against Wigan Warriors.
Welsby’s winner came after the full-time hooter, touching down after a drop-goal kick came off the post.
The score had been locked 4-4, with Lachlan Coote landing two kicks either side of Jake Bibby’s try for Wigan.
Welsby’s quick thinking, however, proved decisive.
Having the youngest player on the field score the winning try in such sensational fashion gave Saints, England and Great Britain great James Graham a triumphant farewell.
It also made for a heart-breaking way to send Wigan talisman Sean O’Loughlin into retirement.
No moment summed up the commitment and ferocity of the first half better than Saints’ effort to hold Zak Hardaker up over the line in the 28th minute, with five defenders rushing across to deny the Warriors the first points of the game.
It was a defensive effort celebrated like a try.
Up until that moment, it was Wigan’s stubborn defensive exertions against a St Helens side that dominated possession that defined the contest.
It was not until a shoulder charge from Morgan Smithies on Coote in the final minute of the half that Wigan conceded, with the forward gifting Saints two points and the half-time lead with a penalty.
The defending champions, playing in their alternative blue, continued to pound Wigan in waves but struggled to erode their resistance.
An effort from Zeb Taia, another decorated Saint playing his final game, was as close as anyone got to a try in the first hour, with his touchdown from a James Roby kick ruled out as he appeared to stray marginally offside in pursuit of the delicately placed grubber.
A stumble from Bibby on the right edge soon after saw a chance go begging for Wigan, but it was a slip up that he quickly atoned for as he dived over for the opening try after 65 gruelling minutes.
Hardaker’s conversation attempt came off the post, allowing Coote to level with seven minutes remaining with his second penalty of the night after Jackson Hastings hit Theo Fages with a reckless high tackle.
Fages was first to try to win it with a kick after that with a drop-goal attempt, and his miss was followed up by a Hardaker penalty that fell short with two minutes remaining.
Then, with the last action of the game, Tommy Makinson went for a long-range drop-goal of his own, which came off the post but was brilliantly pounced upon by Welsby ahead of Wigan’s Bevan French to spark jubilant celebrations.
More to follow.
Wigan Warriors: French; Bibby, Hardaker, Gildart, J Burgess; Leuluai, Hastings; Bullock, Powell, Singleton, Isa, Farrell, Partington.
Replacements: Clubb, Greenwood, O’Loughlin, Smithies.
St Helens: Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Welsby, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, Graham, Taia, Bentley, Knowles.
Replacements: Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lees, Amor.
Referee: Chris Kendall (RFL).