We had to deliver and we did - Holbrook hails victorious Saints

Omnisport
St Helens had done everything but win a major final under Justin Holbrook and the coach was delighted to break that duck at Old Trafford.
St Helens had done everything but win a major final under Justin Holbrook and the coach was delighted to break that duck at Old Trafford.

Departing St Helens coach Justin Holbrook said his players deserve immense credit after they rounded off a dominant Super League campaign with a first Grand Final victory in five years.

Saints overcame Salford Red Devils 23-6 at Old Trafford on Saturday to erase the painful memories of their shock Challenge Cup final defeat in August and a semi-final loss in last year's Super League.

Under Holbrook, who will now return to the NRL with Gold Coast Titans, St Helens have twice coasted to the League Leaders' Shield, finishing an astonishing 16 points clear in 2019 after losing just three games.

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"I'm just so happy and proud that we got the job done," said Holbrook. "We all know the season we've had ... but we had to deliver and we did.

"I just feel satisfied. If we hadn't have won, there would have been a real hollow feeling.

"To only lose three league games all year is an unbelievable achievement. For the group to finish 16 points clear ... it was great, but we had to go out and win that to make it all worthwhile.

"Now that we've done it, I think the current group deserves so much credit. Salford's story is a great one and they played brilliantly today as well. I'm all happy for that but this group of players deserve as many accolades as they can get."

Salford coach Ian Watson was understandably proud of his side's efforts in their maiden Grand Final appearance and had no complaints over the outcome.

When a reporter suggested a number of refereeing decisions had gone against the underdogs, Watson said: "Saints were the best team. I don't want to take anything away from them. The best team won."

Having reached the Old Trafford showpiece for the first time against all odds, Salford will lose a number of key players - including Man of Steel Jackson Hastings, Josh Jones and George Griffin - ahead of the next campaign.

Asked how the Red Devils, whose last title came back in 1976, can ensure their stunning season is not a one-off, Watson replied: "By keeping the supporters - we're a club that has to rely on our supporters, [and] has to rely on local businesses to fund us going forward.

"I think it's been amazing what they [Salford's players] have achieved. It's probably bigger than just getting to a Grand Final, it looks like the boys have got people to fall in love with their rugby team again in Salford.

"Hopefully it can help to build a club from the ground upwards. The club has been clearing debts over the last few years. We're hoping that this run can try and get us on a level playing field next year so we're getting close to debt-free."

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