Opposition Overview: St Helens

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. St Helens - Jack Welsby

Leeds Rhinos are only 80 minutes away from Old Trafford, after beating Wigan Warriors last Thursday night, but in order to secure their place in the Betfred Super League Grand Final, Richard Agar’s side must first beat reigning champions St Helens in Friday night’s blockbuster semi final match at the Totally Wicked Stadium, kick off 7:45pm.

Rhinos fans can buy their tickets for Friday’s clash here and the game is also live on Sky Sports Arena and BBC Radio Leeds.

Regular Season Review

Although they missed out on reclaiming the League Leaders’ Shield during the regular season, St Helens have their eyes set on a thirteenth visit to Old Trafford, should they beat the Rhinos on Friday night.

The current Challenge Cup winners are still favourites to replicate Leeds’ three Grand Final wins in consecutive seasons if they can retain their Super League crown in 2021. This is largely due to Saints only losing 17 Super League games over the last four years, under Justin Holbrook and then Kristian Woolf.

In 2021, Catalans have proved Woolf’s major nemesis, dating back to the two sides’ first meeting in round seven. Both sides had won their first six games of the new season convincingly but in Perpignan, the Dragons took a 20-6 lead and did enough to weather a St Helens fightback and blot the visitor’s perfect record. A win over Hull FC for the Red V was followed by a second defeat of the season to Warrington but five consecutive wins kept Woolf’s side in the picture for the League Leaders’ Shield passed the halfway point, especially after they avenged their loss to Catalans by beating Steve McNamara’s side 34-12 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com – 17/09/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 25 – Wigan Warriors v Catalans Dragons – DW Stadium, Wigan, England – Zak Hardaker of Wigan Warriors is tackled by Catalans Dragons’ Gil Dudson and Joel Tomkins

Castleford became the third different team to beat Saints in a 20-10 win for Daryl Powell’s side, who took revenge for their defeat to Woolf’s side in the Challenge Cup Final, but results against Wigan, Leigh and Warrington saw Saints all but secure their play off status.

They did however lose the race for the League Leaders’ Shield as Catalans produced a golden point extra time drop goal to beat the ‘red v’ at the Dacia Magic Weekend, before a 40-6 win over Leeds and 26-14 loss to Salford closed out their regular season campaign.

2021 Squad

Previous Play Off Form

During the Super League era, St Helens have never missed a play off series. They are the most successful club at reaching the post season, going on to lift the trophy on seven occasions, and should they surpass Leeds on Friday and win at Old Trafford on the 9th October, they will equal the Rhinos’ record of three consecutive Grand Final wins.

Since the play offs were introduced in 1998, Saints have played a total of 50 matches (including Grand Finals), winning 32 and losing 18. Fifteen of those came between 2006 and 2011, when the Saints reached Old Trafford over five seasons but only winning the trophy once.

SeasonPlay Off Finish
1998Final Eliminator (Lost to Leeds)
1999Grand Final (Beat Bradford Bulls)
2000Grand Final (Beat Wigan Warriors)
2001Final Eliminator (Lost to Wigan Warriors)
2002Grand Final (Beat Bradford Bulls)
2003Elimination Semi Final (Lost to Wigan Warriors)
2004Elimination Play Off (Lost to Wigan Warriors)
2005Final Eliminator (Lost to Bradford Bulls)
2006Grand Final (Beat Hull FC)
2007Grand Final (Lost to Leeds)
2008Grand Final (Lost to Leeds)
2009Grand Final (Lost to Leeds)
2010Grand Final (Lost to Wigan Warriors)
2011Grand Final (Lost to Leeds)
2012Semi Finals (Lost to Warrington)
2013Preliminary Semi Finals (Lost to Leeds)
2014Grand Final (Beat Wigan Warriors)
2015Semi Finals (Lost to Leeds)
2016Semi Finals (Lost to Warrington)
2017Semi Finals (Lost to Castleford)
2018Semi Finals (Lost to Warrington Wolves)
2019Grand Final (Beat Salford Red Devils)
2020Grand Final (Beat Wigan Warriors)

In the last ten years, St Helens have bowed out at the final four in five seasons. They have also lost to Leeds twice in at this stage before in 1998 (when a 44-16 win sent Leeds to their first Grand Final) and in 2015 as the Rhinos went on to seal the treble. The two also met in the first round of the 2013 play offs, as Danny McGuire’s late drop goal earned the then reigning champions a place in the semi finals.

Key Player

Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com – 02/08/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 17 – Hull FC v St Helens – MKM Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England – St Helens’ Alex Walmsley after the game

As one of four Saints players to be named in this year’s Super League Dream Team, prop Alex Walmsley has once again shown why he is the best prop in the competition.

The England and Great Britain international is in his eighth year at the club and since debuting in 2013, after starting his career at Batley Bulldogs, has won seven pieces of silverware, including three Grand Finals (2014, 2019, 2020). He is one of fourteen players in the current Saints team that featured in last season’s final win over Wigan and is also part of an eleven player cohort that has played in the 2018 final too, joining Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Theo Fages, Jonny Lomax and more in lifting the Super League trophy in consecutive seasons.

After a big 2020, despite the pandemic, Walmsley has continued to lead the club in 2021 and has been Saints’ top peformer. Against Leeds, the prop ran riot, as he made 275 total metres from 23 carries, as well as 13 tackle busts and 22 tackles. He also leads the club in metres, carries and tackle busts to earn his second Dream Team honour.

Returning Face

Only one player out of both the current Leeds and St Helens squads has played for both clubs. Prop Kyle Amor signed for Leeds from Whitehaven in 2010 and made three substitute appearances for the Rhinos that season before moving to Wakefield Trinity, where he made 74 Super League appearances. In 2013, he signed for Saints and helped them win the Super League trophy after only one year. He has also came off the bench in the last two Grand Finals (2019 and 2020), adding two more Grand Final rings to his collection, and celebrated 250 Super League appearances against Leigh Centurions at the end of April.

Last Semi Final Clash vs Leeds

Leeds and St Helens last met in the Super League semi finals in 2015 and on that night, the Rhinos took a step closer to winning the treble as they overcame Keiron Cunningham’s side 20-13 at Emerald Headingley.

Despite going eight points down, with James Roby scoring the opening try of the game, Leeds bounced back with a try from Zak Hardaker and penalty goal from Kevin Sinfield. Mark Percival’s try on sixty minutes looked to have sealed Saints’ place back at Old Trafford until Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins sealed the result for Brian McDermott’s side.

Tickets and More Information

Following the first round of Betfred Super League play off games, we now know that Leeds Rhinos will travel to St Helens on Friday 1st October, kick off 7.45pm, in the Grand Final semi final and tickets and travel are on sale now.

Tickets and travel for the clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium are on sale now! Leeds Rhinos 2021 Season Members, 2021 Flexi Members and 2021 Supporter Members can also save £5 on their own ticket when purchased before midnight the day before the game. This will automatically discount in the basket page when ordering through Leeds Rhinos.

You can secure your place by purchasing your tickets and travel in one of the following ways:

Online: Tickets are available 24/7 at tickets.therhinos.co.uk 

Over the Phone: You can contact Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office on 0371 423 1315 during the following opening hours: Saturday 25th September, 9:30am to 12:30pm, Monday 27th to Thursday 30th September, 10:30am to 3:30pm, Friday 1st October, 10:30am to 3pm

Please note, Leeds Rhinos Ticket Office at Emerald Headingley Stadium will not be open for ticket sales. Fans who have pre-purchased tickets can collect during opening hours.

For more information, click here.