Highlights of St.Helens 1996 famous Challenge Cup come-back win over Bradford will be re-shown by the BBC this Saturday as part of a weekend of Challenge Cup action which will also show Saints' 1978 dramatic defeat to Leeds.
The action-packed footage, which kicks off on BBC 1 this Saturday at 1.15pm, is part of a weekend of Rugby League action on the BBC. Mark Chapman looks back through the BBC Sport archive and picks out five Rugby League Challenge Cup finals that were absolute classics.
The special programme kicks off with the dramatic 1978 final between Saints and Leeds which saw the Yorkshire club edge out the Saints 14-12. Next up is arguably the greatest ever Wembley showcase between Wigan and Hull from 1985 before the Saints are up again this time following our high-scoring to-and-fro final victory over Bradford in 1996.
The 2003 Cardiff final between Bradford and Leeds follows before the programme finishes with a cracker between Hull FC and Warrington from 2016. As finals go, these five were all packed full of sensational tries and sporting drama.
Sunday at 1:15pm also sees BBC 2 host a documentary to mark the 50th anniversary of the Watersplash Final as Dave Woods presents a look back at the 1968 Rugby League Challenge Cup final between Leeds and Wakefield Trinity, which witnessed one of the most dramatic moments ever seen at a major sporting event.
1996 Challenge Cup Final: St.Helens 40-32 Bradford Bulls – Wembley Stadium
This, the first Challenge Cup final under the new Super League was a magnificent spectacle, with points galore and some brilliant rugby league football from both sides. It also showed that St. Helens, with their stellar squad were more than capable of snatching a fantastic victory from the jaws of defeat! Bradford Bulls had three former Saints’ players in their ranks – Paul Loughlin, Bernard Dwyer and Sonny Nickle, who had joined the club as part of the deal which saw centre Paul Newlove move to Knowsley Road, to give added spice to the proceedings.
The Saints got off to a real flyer, with full-back Steve Prescott scoring twice in the first 15 minutes. Yet by half-time, they had lost impetus, with the Bulls enjoying a 12-14 advantage. Things got progressively worse for St. Helens, to such an extent that by the 53rd minute, Bradford scrum-half and captain Robbie Paul had scored two tries, Bernard Dwyer another and defeat was very much on the agenda at 12-26. It was time for desperate measures and within the space of ten minutes the Saints had snatched back the lead in the most incredible circumstances. Three towering ‘bombs’ from scrum-half Bobbie Goulding wrought havoc in the Bradford defence, with Bulls’ full-back Nathan Graham struggling to get anywhere near the ball. Keiron Cunningham, Simon Booth and Ian Pickavance were the try-scorers. Goulding converted all three and the Saints restored their lead at 30-26, an unlikely scenario at one stage.
It was back to handling after that, with Danny Arnold streaking in for his second try. Yet there was more drama with ten minutes to go, when Robbie Paul scored his third touchdown. Cook’s conversion reduced the lead to two points and it was left to Apollo Perelini to make the game safe for the Saints with a marvellous effort with just five minutes to go to complete one of the greatest come-backs ever in a major final.
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