Grand Final 2021 stats preview
Catalans Dragons will become the ninth team to compete in a Super League Grand Final.
They face a St Helens side that will extend their own record of most Grand Final appearances, appearing in their thirteenth Grand Final on Saturday Evening.
The two sides have faced each other three times in 2021 with the Dragons victorious twice. There was just a single point separating them during their last meeting in September.
And there will be little to separate them again on October 9 – but what do the stats say?
St Helens have had the upper hand over Catalans in their last ten meetings – defeating the Dragons in six of those ten contests.
They’ve met once before in a major final – the 2007 Challenge Cup – an afternoon that saw Catalans become the first French team to compete in the infamous cup competition’s showpiece final.
An effervescent James Roby crossed for the opening try during a St Helens victory that afternoon, which was the first Challenge Cup Final at the new Wembley Stadium.
Saints defeated the Dragons in last year’s Play-Off Semi-Final on their way to back-to-back Grand Final victories. Centre Kevin Naiqama crossed for a hat-trick as St Helens kept the Dragons to a solitary two points.
St Helens haven’t had it all their own way during their knock-out encounters with Catalans. The Dragons defeated Saints in the Challenge Cup Semi-Final on their way to a historic first Challenge Cup victory. Steve McNamara’s side got off to the perfect start, leading 27-0 at the break, to go on and beat St Helens 35-16.
Before this season, the last new team to feature in a Grand Final was Salford Red Devils. They defied all the odds to reach Old Trafford in 2019, eventually falling short to St Helens.
The last new team to win a Grand Final was all the way back in 2004 when Leeds Rhinos defeated Bradford Bulls. The Rhinos are also the only team to have won three Grand Finals in consecutive years (2007, 2008, 2009), something the Saints are hoping to emulate this year.
St Helens will either become joint record eight Grand Final winners alongside Leeds Rhinos, or lose a joint sixth Grand Final alongside local rivals Wigan Warriors, depending on Saturday's result.
Apart from at the first Grand Final, no team has ever won on their first trip to Old Trafford - an omen for Saturday Night or another piece of history waiting to be made?
James Roby is the only player in either squad who has won the Harry Sunderland trophy – in fact, he is amongst an elite group of seven players that have won the trophy twice with the same club - he will make history if he wins the award again this year. Roby also holds the record of being the oldest player to win the Harry Sunderland award.
Roby, along with teammate Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Catalans’ James Maloney, could all surpass Kevin Sinfield as the oldest player to score points in a Grand Final if they cross for a try or kick a goal on Saturday. Roby will be the oldest player in either side (35 years, 321 days), LMS second (35 years, 268 days) and Maloney third (35 years, 116 days).
They still have some way to go to catch Sean O'Loughlin as the oldest player to play in a Grand Final (38 years, 3 days), or Jamie Peacock as the oldest player to win a Grand Final (37 years, 300 days).
This Grand Final will be James Roby's tenth - all with St Helens - and his record currently stands at four wins and five losses. On Saturday, he will move one step closer to the all-time Grand Final appearance maker Jamie Peacock, who holds the record with 11. Peacock also holds the record for most Grand Final wins, winning a staggering nine finals.
James Maloney has the chance to join the ranks of overseas players to feature in a Grand Final winning side in both England and Australia. There have been 13 overseas players to complete the double, including St Helens Lachlan Coote.
With victory, Maloney would become the first player to complete the double after having first won the NRL Grand Final with two different clubs.
Mike McMeeken will be hoping his second trip to Old Trafford is better than his first – he is the only current player from either team who has played in a Super League Grand Final but is yet to win – he was part of Castleford Tigers 2017 defeat to Leeds Rhinos.
Dragons head coach Steve McNamara has one Grand Final appearance to his name as a player as well – he played at loose forward for a Bradford Bulls team that lost to Saturday’s opponents St Helens 8-6 back in 1999.
The Dragons have five previous Super League Grand Final winners in their side, all of whom have won it with Wigan Warriors. St Helens on the other hand have 15 players in their squad that have tasted success at the Theatre of Dreams.
And finally, no player has ever been sin-binned in a Super League Grand Final. There have been five sin-binnings in the last two meetings between the Dragons and Saints this season, so is certainly one to look out for on October 9.
Tickets for the Betfred Super League Grand Final are priced from £30 and are available to purchase here.