St Helens emphatically beat Catalan Dragons to earn place in Grand Final

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Ross Heppenstall
·2 min read
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St Helens' Kevin Naiqama celebrates scoring his side's third try of the game during the Betfred Super League, Play-off semi final at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens. - PA
St Helens' Kevin Naiqama celebrates scoring his side's third try of the game during the Betfred Super League, Play-off semi final at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens. - PA
  • St Helens 48 Catalans Dragons 2

James Graham is expected to play for St Helens in next Friday’s Grand Final against Wigan Warriors in what would be the final game of a stellar career.

The former Great Britain captain, 35, is to retire at the end of the season but was forced off midway through the first half of Friday night’s play-off semi-final after being hurt in a collision.

He failed a Head Injury Assessment and could not return, so must now prove he has suffered no ill effects ahead of the title decider at Hull’s KCOM Stadium.

Asked whether he expects Graham to be available next week, head coach, Kristian Woolf, said: “I think so; Jammer was really disappointed he couldn’t come back on.

“I haven’t spoken to the doctor yet to see why he failed the HIA, but with the seven-day protocol he will be in line to play next week.”

The Dragons led with an early penalty through James Maloney but the Australian playmaker was then punished for a late, high shot on St Helens winger, Regan Grace.

Maloney was sinbinned and moments later Saints claimed their first try when Lachlan Coote, the full-back, took a pass from James Roby to dive over the line.

Although Graham was forced off, Saints began to motor and Kevin Naiqama swapped passes with Tommy Makinson before racing clear inside the right channel.

Three minutes after the restart, Naiqama touched down for his second and Saints’ third before Coote completed his own brace.

Jonny Lomax and James Bentley also got on the scoresheet with well-worked tries either side of the hour mark before Naiqama raced clear from deep to complete his hat-trick.

Grace then did emulated him with a long-range effort to claim Saints’ eighth try and complete Catalans’ misery.

Dragons coach, Steve McNamara, said: “Quite clearly St Helens and Wigan are the best two teams in the competition and deserve to be in the Grand Final.”