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Magnificent St Helens become the English Rugby League Champions after they defeated Hull in Super League's Grand Final - English Rugby League's equivalent of the Super Bowl only much better.

St Helens have won all of the three domestic trophies and this was also the first time ever that Hull played in the Grand Final.

The Grand Final is played between the two teams who finished first and second in the Super League.
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St Helens are the English Champions




St Helens 26 - Hull FC 4

The mantle of greatness rests proudly on the 2006 St Helens team after this Grand Final triumph saw them sweep the board with all three domestic trophies.


Bursting through: Leon Pryce on his way to scoring a try


The feat is a true reflection of their dominance of the campaign, and the measure of their remarkable consistency is that this marks their fifth championship in 11 seasons of the Super League era.

Hull, in their first Grand Final, gave them a run for their money in the first half which they shaded in everything but points. But they ultimately had to bow to the superior power, pace and invention of the opposition.

Hull made the early running and three times in the first 10 minutes threatened the Saints line.

First Paul Cooke and Shaun Briscoe combined, but forward Shane McMenemy could not take the final pass. Then scrum-half Richard Horne exchanged passes with Gareth Carvell in a move which ended with Horne putting in a menacing kick to the Saints line, and New Zealand winger Francis Meli was grateful to make the ball dead.

Hull's best chance followed when Cooke produced his most dangerous weapon — a long pass to the flank — to uncover winger Gareth Raynor, who hurtled to the corner from 20 metres out but was dashed into the flag by tremendous cover defence from full-back Paul Wellens and centre Jamie Lyon.


Talau scores for St Helens

Having weathered the storm, Saints made the first breakthrough in the 17th minute when young loose forward Danny Washbrook was made to suffer for giving away a needless penalty in the tackle.

Saints drove forward and scrum-half Sean Long chipped to the corner, where Meli swooped to touch down.
Hull counter-attacked and only a last-ditch tackle by Lee Gilmour on Briscoe saved the day after Richard Horne had put the full-back clear.

But the Saints were tottering, and when Cooke lofted a towering kick to the corner it was knocked back by winger Motu Tony for McMenemy to send Australian centre Sid Domic diving over at the flag. Cooke's conversion attempt on the touchline hit a post and came out.

Next it was Saints' opportunity to test the Hull line. Long sent Lyon clear but supporting winger Ade Gardner was halted by Briscoe's superb cover tackle.

It looked like being 4-4 at the break, but with barely a minute to go stand-off Leon Pryce produced a storming burst from 40 metres out through two tackles and arrowed to the corner.

Lyon added the conversion from the touchline to send his team in 10-4 ahead.

Saints struck decisively soon after the interval with two tries in four minutes. Gifted possession through a mistake by substitute Graeme Horne, they kept the ball moving and a wild pass out was kept alive by young James Roby for loose forward Jason Hooper to send centre Willie Talau diving over.

Then Long unleashed one of his menacing high kicks and Gardner scooped it from the air to touch down after an agonising juggle.

Lyon converted from the touchline and St Helens were in the clear at 20-4 ahead.

Just after the hour mark they were beyond recall when hooker Keiron Cunningham produced one of his barnstorming charges from close range.

Wellens crowned a wonderful season by winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match to go alongside his Man of Steel title as the player of the season.
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How the Super League finished

Team.........................Points

St Helens......................48
Hull............................40
Leeds Rhinos.................38
Bradford Bulls................32
Salford City Reds............26
Warrington Wolves..........26
Harlequins....................23
Wigan Warriors..............22
Huddersfield Giants..........22
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats...20
Castleford Tigers..............19
Catalans Dragons..............16
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Match details

Scores: 4-0 Meli try, 4-4 Domic try, 8-4 Pryce try, 10-4 Lyon con, 14-4 Talau try, 18-4 Gardner try 20-4 Lyon con, 24-4 Cunningham try, 26-4 Lyon con.
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St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli; Pryce, Long; Anderson, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Hooper.
Subs: Roby, Graham, Bennett, Fa'asavalu.
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Hull: Briscoe; Tony, Domic, Yeaman, Raynor; Cooke, R Horne; Dowes, Swain, Carvell, McMenemy, Radford, Washbrook.
Subs: Whiting, G Horn, Wheeldon, King.
Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

telegraph.co.uk