14th October: Saints win the day
Richard de la Riviere looks back at what happened in Rugby League over the years on this day: 14th October
Twice on this day St Helens have conquered Old Trafford to be crowned Super League Champions.
In 2000, when defending their crown, they went into the play-offs after having been hammered by Wigan 42-4 at home in a Minor Premiership-deciding final-round game of the season. And a week later they were 11-10 down at home to Bradford in the first round of the play-offs when Chris Joynt finished off the most famous passage of play in Super League’s then five-year history to win them the game.
Buoyed by that, they went on to secure a Grand Final berth by hammering Wigan 54-16 at the then JJB Stadium, with Anthony Sullivan scoring a truly breathtaking length-of-the-field try on the stroke of half-time to break Wigan’s spirit.
The Warriors recovered from that by convincingly beating Bradford at home 40-12 to set up a third encounter with Saints in a month.
And, in Super League’s third Grand Final, the first try was again provided by a Kiwi when Sean Hoppe scored in the seventh minute from Joynt’s offload. But Andy Farrell’s try from a strong run close to the line got Wigan on the board.
Joynt, the Saints skipper, got the next try himself, beating the defences of Mick Cassidy, Farrell and Kris Radlinski before Paul Sculthorpe kicked a drop-goal for an 11-4 half-time lead.
Joynt all but secured the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man of the match when he scored the first try of the second half after 50 minutes, supporting Sean Long’s break, to give Saints a 17-4 lead after Long’s second goal.
Just when it seemed all over, Wigan roared back with two tries in three minutes through David Hodgson and Tony Smith to trail by just a point. But Fereti Tuilagi’s try with 11 minutes to play, converted by Long, was the game’s gamebreaking moment.
And Tim Jonkers iced the cake when he finished off a last-minute move to take the margin out to a thoroughly deserved 13 points at 29-16. Six years later, Saints completed the League-and-Cup double by beating Hull FC in the Grand Final.
Having dominated most of the year, they finished eight points clear of Hull at the top of the table and hammered Huddersfield 42-12 in the Challenge Cup Final at Twickenham.
They beat Hull 12-8 to reach their first Grand Final in four years, where they would play the same opposition.
There was little in the Old Trafford decider for much of the first half, with each side having produced one try – Francis Meli scoring for Saints before Sid Domic replied for Hull. But Leon Pryce’s try in the dying embers of the half proved to be the gamebreaking moment.
Willie Talau, Adrian Gardner and Keiron Cunningham added further tries in the second half as St Helens ran out convincing 26-4 winners to take home their fifth – and to date, last – Super League title.
England and Oz reach World Cup semis
England and Australia hammered South Africa and Fiji respectively to bring the Group One games in the 1995 World Cup to a close.
The Kangaroos’ 66-0 win at Huddersfield in front of a 7,127 crowd secured a semi-final date with New Zealand at the same venue eight days later. Their 12 tries came from Brett Dallas (three), Robbie O’Davis (three), Steve Menzies (two), Tim Brasher and Gary Larson.
Andrew Johns started at hooker for the first time in the World Cup, where he would have a telling influence later in the competition.
The Graham Murray-coached Fiji bowed out after having hammered South Africa at Keighley with an enthralling display, and having kept England to under 50 points.
14,041 people turned up to Headingley to watch a weakened England side struggle to exert their authority with a 46-0 win over South Africa. Keighley’s Nick Pinkney took the plaudits with two tries, while Bobbie Goulding, Simon Haughton, Kris Radlinski, Paul Broadbent, Tony Smith and Dean Sampson also scored.
Goulding kicked seven goals.
Groups two and three had already been concluded, with New Zealand and Wales the winners. France earn victory against Kumuls
FRANCE opened up their two-match series with Papua New Guinea by beating them 16-9 at Albi in front of 4,500 spectators on this day in 1979. Despite only winning by seven points, they outscored the touring Kumuls by four tries to one, with winger Patrick Nauroy crossing twice. Jean-Marc Bourret, rated by some as one of the world’s best centres, and stand-off Eric Waligunda also scored three-pointers, with the latter kicking two goals.
Volu Kapani scored the tourists’ only try from the wing, with centre Kombinari kicking three goals.
The match was only Papua New Guinea’s fourth Test match, and their first away from home. Their only win at this point had been against the French in Port Moresby in 1977.
But France went on to win the 1979 mini-series by beating the Kumuls 15-2 in Carcassonne a fortnight later.