76 mins: Evalds evades a number of Saints players and picks up some good distance but it comes to nothings as the final tackle ends with another Coote catch.
74 mins: Inu sends a kick far too long, which Coote claims without fuss in his goal area.
72 mins: Lots of red and white flags are waving as St Helens move closer and closer to victory. Salford try a short kick in an attempt to claim possession. Thompson goes down with cramp – he is yet to go off, so might be time to do so.
PENALTY! St Helens 22-6 Salford (Coote)
The referee once again angers the Salford fans as someone is adjudged offside, gifting a penalty to St Helens. Coote lines it up and sends it over.
69 mins: Walmsley almost bundles his way through four Salford players but he is just held up about five yards from the line. Jones offloads superbly to Evalds, allowing Salford to make a few more yards but then St Helens claim it after a crossfield kick on the final tackle.
67 mins: This game is getting away from Salford, despite their best efforts. They’ll have some frustrations with the referee, too.
65 mins: Lussick whacks a stunning 40:20 kick to earn some territory. Salford move things quickly and get close to the line but then Dudson knocks. He is held up and then Smith pulls him down as he tries to play the ball. The referee has had a very bad second half, making decisions generally in St Helens’ favour.
63 mins: St Helens are14 points up now and look like adding a few more. Evalds takes another great catch for Salford but it’s just further proof how often they’ve been stuck in their own 22.
PENALTY! St Helens 20-6 Salford (Coote)
Bibby fails to play the ball correctly and the referee calls him out. Saints get the scrum on the 22, then Dudson shows his frustration with a high tackle on Thompson, allowing Coote to knock one from under the sticks.
58 mins: Salford go through a full set of six and barely earn any yards until Hastings whacks the ball downfield for Coote to claim. Makinson takes a run for the first time since suffering his injury and looks sore after the hit. Mossop then smashes into Taia, who comes out of it badly.
56 mins: A big hit from Naigama on Inu results in the Salford man dropping the ball. Naigama does not seem to actually try to tackle Inu and instead hits him with the shoulder, resulting in a knock-on. Another poor decision from the referee.
54 mins: Salford get into a dangerous position, Hastings tries to dummy a couple of defenders but they read it and take him down. Lussick is the next to have a go but he’s held up before the line. A Hastings kick is devoured by Coote and St Helens start again.
52 mins: Can Salford bounce back from this? The key might be to attack Makinson who looks like he is functioning with one arm but they have no suitable replacements, so they really want him to stay on.
TRY! St Helens 18-6 Salford (Percival)
On the final tackle, Percival darts inside, clips the ball through the defence with his boot, chases it down and dives onto it. The referee checks the grounding but it’s fine. It was a great bit of creativity from Percival. Coote whacks over the conversion.
48 mins: We definitely have a serious final on our hands now. Fages sends a forward pass and it’s spotted for a penalty to Salford before things could get dangerous.
46 mins: Inu gets back into the game by collecting Coote’s kick. Evalds almost breaks through the defence is just about stopped before he can get away and head for the line.
44 mins: The clock is off after Makinson is forced to the ground but comes up holding his shoulder and looks in pain. He gets up to carry on but seems uncomfortable.
Ashworth is ruled offside after a big chase, allowing Salford to gain some territory. Their set of six sees Inu get a whack in the head from Ashworth (that man again). Seems like a bit of a needless headbutt from Ashworth who is being very aggressive out there. Calm down, mate. Inu looks quite groggy, too.
42 mins: Sio collects the long kick to end a set of six and Salford kickstart their half from deep. There’s a bit of thrust to get Salford up to the halfway line, then a high kick is taken by Makinson to end it.
Salford are back out first, as they are so keen to show what they can do. St Helens follow them. Should be cracking.
Half-time: St Helens 12-6 Salford
After dominating the first 25 minutes of so, St Helens are now in a contest, that’s for sure. It looked like Saints would be out of sight by the break thanks to two tries but then Salford fought back and looked like the better side for the final quarter of the half. If Salford can keep this up, then it should be a fascinating second half.
38 mins: St Helens power up to the halfway line but Evalds again retrieves the kick.
36 mins: Evalds claims a good catch from an up and under and sets up Salford for a set of six. Salford try to move the ball along the line too quickly and a pass is misplaced but no St Helens player can get his hands on it. Hastings with a good kick into the corner relieves pressure and gives Saints a scrum on their own 10 yard line.
34 mins: I thought Salford were almost out of this game already but they’ve made the most of some quickly generated momentum. Salford’s players and fans have certainly stepped it up a notch.
TRY! St Helens 12-6 Salford (Bibby)
Hastings is at the heart of everything positive for Salford and he shows his importance again with some good hands out wide, putting the ball into the hands of Bibby, allowing him to drop a shoulder and power through to get over the line. Inu whacks the ball through the posts from a tricky position.
30 mins: Hastings dives on a loose ball after Fages sends it back to no one. Salford have enjoyed a couple of good minutes and need to make the most of the slight improvement. Hastings cuts through the defence and the ball ends up out wide with Sio but he’s held up, not that it matters as the referee decrees Salford merit another set of six.
28 mins: Another kick goes up from Saints, which Inu drops but luckily for Salford it actually goes backwards. Salford finally make some yards as Hastings is taken down. Lolohea goes over the line for Salford after ducking and diving around the try line and it looks like they would be getting their first points but Tomkins is done for obstruction and Lolohea’s effort is chalked off.
TRY! St Helens 12-0 Salford (Taia)
Saints go on the blindside from the scrum. Roby moves quickly and sends it inside to Taia who eases over for the second try, which is confirmed after the video referee looks at it. Lovely thinking and execution from Roby made the try. Coote sends over the kick.
23 mins: Salford are really just going through the motions here and do not look like causing any problems for St Helens. It’s not much of a contest at the moment, with a second Saints try looking inevitable. Salford need some magic or luck to get back into this at the moment. Coote puts up a kick and Sio tries to take but then drops it near his own line, summing up the day so far for Salford.
21 mins: The final tackle ends when Naigama is held up about 10 yards from goal. Salford bring on Walker as they look to change things up. They are yet to find any gaps in the St Helens defence. Grace takes the ball upfield for St Helens, breaking away, looking like he won’t be caught but it clip and goes down before he can sense the try line.
19 mins: Salford get things going once again and they will need to find something a bit different going forward. To make things they are penalised for offside. They seem a touch rattled and they really need to keep their cool on tonight of all nights. Walmsley easily breaks through a tackle and Salford fail to stop him. Peyroux is another who almost makes it through then a kick rebounds off a Salford man and it’s another set of six!
TRY! St Helens 6-0 Salford (Knowles)
Walmsley spots a gap in the defence and passes the ball to Knowles who runs into the space and drops over the line just to the left of the posts. The try had been coming. Coote knocks over the conversion too.
14 mins: Salford move over the halfway line, which is a novel experience for them. Hastings whacks an up and under, which Coote predicts and takes it with ease. Their set of six ends with a great drilled kick from Coote to the try line, forcing Salford to start from deep once again.
12 mins: Makinson makes a dart after a scrum and the second tackle is moved quickly out wide where Coote takes control of it, beats a man but then tries to offload it and sends the ball straight out of play. A strange decision but a sign of how much Saints want to get on the scoreboard quickly.
10 mins: Coote puts up a kick on the final tackle, Evalds takes the ball in the air and is taken out while off the ground by Percival. Salford will be pleased with the extra yardage they earn from that.
8 mins: Salford are really having to grind to get up into St Helens territory and haven’t got near the opposition line yet. They’ve had a few sets of six now and have had to kick from around the halfway line every time, allowing St Helens to run it out.
6 mins: St Helens are making most of the running here and are progressing down the pitch with relative ease. Their set ends when Coote is taken down while trying to find a gap on the final tackle.
4 mins: Both teams certainly look up for this and are determined to take down their nearest opponent. Salford are penalise for a flop and St Helens get to crank it up for another set of six. Walmsley almost crashes through the defence but is just stopped short. There is a kick through, which bounces around but is eventually snaffled by a Salford player before things get more dangerous.
2 mins: An early knock-on sees the ball turned over by Mossop to St Helens. Saints look to take advantage and quickly push Salford onto their own goal-line. Fages tries to slip through on the final tackle but is taken down by Salford.
Richard Bridges is a Shed Seven fan, he says: “Hull KR fan watching in Poland (as you do) – loved seeing Shed Seven – looked as though Alan the drummer might have been wearing a York City Knights shirt too. Yorkshire’s finest!”
The players are out of the pitch, their emergence greeted with fireworks and a wall of noise. Should be a cracking atmosphere.
We’re getting closer to some actual rugby now as the ubiquitous Laura Wright belts out Jerusalem.
Live music at a sporting event is never a good thing, is it? What we have at Old Trafford is Shed Seven doing a weird advert for their upcoming tour.
Sky reminding us of Ben Flower being an idiot in the final against St Helens in 2014 is what we need in this build up.
Adrian Morley is desperate for Salford to win and believes they can do it, which is nice. Danny McGuire points out that St Helens are a lot better, so does Phil Clarke.
Leeds Rhinos are not at Old Trafford today but their women’s team were victorious in the women’s Grand Final yesterday when they defeated Castleford. They were behind at half-time but ended up winning 20-12.
Jackson Hastings enjoying his Man of Steel award …
I think I have been brought in for this historic occasion due to my lengthy links with rugby league. When I was at school I played the sport and was called up to play for Salford schoolboys. I went to one training session where everyone was twice my size, so I decided it wasn’t for me as I was never going to make it as a professional and I liked having my bones intact.
St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Lomax, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles
Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Ashworth, Smith
Salford: Evalds, Sio, Welham, Bibby, Inu, Lolohea, Hastings, Mossop, Tomkins, Dudson, Jones, Griffin, McCarthy
Subs: Lussick, Flanagan, Walker, Burke
We have reached the finale. For the first time in a long time there is a chance of a surprise winner in the form of Salford who have defied plenty of odds with their rag-tag bunch to make it to Old Trafford. They performed some magic to put together a side to bring them to this unknown point. Jackson Hastings is the man at the heart of it and rightly won the Man of Steel but leading his side to victory at Old Trafford would surpass all that.
St Helens have been here and won it, so will not be fazed by the occasion and will have no qualms about being party poopers. They will also be aiming to pack Justin Holbrook off with another trophy in his last game as St Helens coach.
It should be a lively encounter.