St. Helens 8 Bradford Bulls 6 (VIEW MATCH)
1999 Grand Final
Another brilliant Roses battle
This had been a bizarre season in many ways for the Saints, with Coach Ellery Hanley suspended at one stage and subsequently reinstated. The team finished in second place, some five points behind leaders Bradford Bulls and reached their first-ever Grand Final appearance by beating Castleford Tigers at Knowsley Road. Prior to that, they had lost 4-40 to the Bulls at Odsal, who went straight through to the final. It was always going to be a supremely tight encounter, with chances few and far between, but eagerly-anticipated from the fans of both teams.
Chris Joynt lifts the cup
Saints lost the toss for choice of colours and wore their change strip of teal and orange. Yet when the teams came out into the arena there was a thunderous roar from the St. Helens fans. Captain Chris Joynt and his men wore white warm-up tops with the red vee – a brilliant psychological boost for everyone from St. Helens! It proved to be an engrossing contest, tense and exciting. Bradford were hot favourites, but could not convert pressure into points with only a Henry Paul converted try to show for their efforts at half-time, when they led 6-2. Saints’ penalty was by Sean Long, an injury worry, who came onto the field in the 24th minute.
The major turning point, however, came just after half-time, when Michael Withers was adjudged to have knocked-on after an attempted interception. He picked up the loose ball and fed Leon Pryce, who scored by the posts, but it was over-ruled. Saints’ defence held up well and it was time to take the game to the Bulls. In the 65th minutes, they cut loose, with Cunningham, Long and Atcheson providing Kevin Iro with a try in the corner. Sean Long’s touchline conversion, to give his team a two-point advantage was one of the most brilliant in the club’s history. Saints’ held on to win their first-ever Grand Final in one of the toughest-ever games of Rugby League.