Soliola departs St Helens as a winner

Canberra Raiders 2015 recruit Sio Soliola has finished his time with St Helens in the best possible way by scoring a pivotal try as the club secured the Super League Championship after a stunning and nerve-racking 14-6 win over Wigan in the Grand Final.

Paul Wellens' reverse kick to Tommy Makinson sealed a dramatic triumph as the 12-man Warriors refused to back down.

Ben Flower was sensationally sent off in the third minute for punching Lance Hohaia as he lay prone on the floor.

But shorn of their last remaining half back Saints struggled to gain any kind of momentum until Sia Soliola crashed over and Wellens made his telling contribution.

Winning a title hinges on those moments, but it would be wrong not to mention the defence too.

Much maligned by those outside the club, it stood firm so Saints could take home their sixth Super League title.

Saints brought Sia Soliola into the starting line up in the only change from the side that beat Catalan.

Wigan withdrew Michael McIllorum late on allowing Sam Powell to come into his place.

Saints kicked off into a dramatic and raucous atmosphere only for Mose Masoe to give away a penalty for a high shot.

Seconds later though Ben Flower smashed Lance Hohaia on the floor away from the play and was sent off.

It was a bizarre action by the Wigan forward, with the Saints half back prone on the floor and unable to defend himself.

Hohaia left the field with what looked like a serious facial injury.

With a man advantage Saints had the next two possessions but couldn't find a way through the defence.

But a fantastic Josh Charnley break handed the impetus back to Wigan, who then won a penalty.

Saints defended it well though and could have pressed home their advantage if they hadn't lost the ball on their next set.

On 15 minutes Adam Swift took a high ball but Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook got in front of him as he cleared his lines.

That saw Wigan gain a penalty and Matty Smith duly put them ahead. 

Saints were lacking Hohaia's kicking game and it showed as they couldn't complete their sets nor gain a decent advantage when they had to clear their lines.

A repeat set on 27 minutes gave Saints some pressure and then James Roby was impeded as he tried to play the ball.

Percival levelling it up with the boot.


Saints defended another set as Wigan pressed in the dying moments of the first half and then Brown's men almost crossed with a melee of their own.

But another penalty handed it back to Wigan and they made no mistake, pushing the ball wide for Joe Burgess to put them ahead at half time.

Saints started the second half well but it was the Warriors who pressed first.

On 50 minutes, Matty Bowen dropped a high ball handing Saints a set right on their line, but it went to ground again.

Saints weren't going to let Wigan get away with another handling error though and Sia Soliola blasted over from short range.

Percival putting Saints ahead.

Tommy Makinson stopped a certain Liam Farrell score on 58 minutes and then Swift put Wigan on their heels with a superb kick chase.

Matty Smith missed the chance to draw Wigan level with a penalty on 63 minutes and Saints made them pay.

Wellens produced a sublime reverse kick and Makinson out leaped the defence to score.

There were some hairy moments in the final stages but Saints closed out the game to win the title - which will sit nicely alongside the League Leaders' Shield.

It was culmination of a superb season and a fitting goodbye to Sia Soliola, Nathan Brown, Willie Manu and Anthony Laffranchi.

Match Summary:

Saints:
Tries: Soliola, Makinson
Goals: Percival (3 from 3)

Wigan:
Tries: Burgess
Goals: Smith (2 from 4)

Penalties:
Saints: 9
Wigan: 6

HT: 2-6
FT: 14-6

REF: Phil Bentham

ATT: 70,712

Teams:

Saints:
17. Paul Wellens; 2. Tommy Makinson, 22. Mark Percival, 4. Josh Jones, 5. Adam Swift; 15. Mark Flanagan, 6. Lance Hohaia; 16. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 8. Mose Masoe, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Sia Soliola, 3. Jordan Turner.
Subs: 13. Willie Manu, 18. Alex Walmsley, 27. Greg Richards, 28. Luke Thompson.

Wigan:
1. Matty Bowen; 2. Josh Charnley, 5. Anthony Gelling, 23. Dan Sarginson, 32. Joe Burgess; 6. Blake Green, 7. Matty Smith; 10. Ben Flower, 19. Sam Powell, 17. Dominic Crosby, 11. Joel Tomkins, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O'Loughlin.
Subs: 22. Eddy Pettybourne, 24. Tony Clubb, 25. John Bateman, 27. George Williams.