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On This Day: Saints beat Wigan in Challenge Cup Final – 1966

Each day whilst we are all in Lockdown we will recall a famous Saints moment from the current day thanks to Saints Heritage Society.

21 May 1966

Challenge Cup Final: Saints 21-2 Wigan at Wembley. 

This was a game where Saints were far too powerful for their old rivals in virtually every department and one important aspect in particular. In Wigan’s Challenge Cup semi-final hooker Colin Clarke was sent off for ‘technical offences’ in the scrum and was banned for one match – the final! Wigan had no specialist hooker, having sold their former number nine Bill Sayer to St. Helens before the Cup deadline in January. Needless to say, Saints won the scrums hands-down and could even concede penalties knowing they would get the ball back from the ensuing scrum following the kick to touch.

It was also a game when Len Killeen, Saints’ South African wingman, kicked the longest-ever goal at Wembley, from ten yards inside his own half, which totally demoralised the Wigan team. In fact, Saints were always in the driving seat and scored the first try when second-rower John Mantle got on the end of a stunning set-piece move to crash over the try-line. At half-time it was 9-2, Wigan replying with a penalty from Gilfedder, but it was Saints who were well in control in front of a crowd of over 98,000.

Saints scored two further tries in the second half and defied the advice of their Coach, Joe Coan, who told them to run the ball. In the 54th minute, centre Billy Benyon put in a brilliant short kick for his winger Killeen to pick up and dive over the line in seemingly one movement – an effortless piece of skill. After 71 minutes, scrum-half Tommy Bishop grubbered through the Wigan defence and dived over to make the score 19-2, following Killeen’s conversion. Skipper Alex Murphy rubbed it in with a 78th minute drop-goal, to complete the scoring and a memorable day for Saints’ fans. It was the club’s third trophy of the season and a week later they would be Champions too. Happy days indeed!

Check out the team that played on that famous day! 

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