On This Day: Saints beat Bradford in thrilling encounter – 2004

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

29 MAY 2004

Super League round 12: St. Helens 35-30 Bradford Bulls at Knowsley Road.

Aussie stand-off Jason Hooper, seen here taking on Bradford’s Robbie Paul, ran in a hat-trick of tries as Saints leapfrogged Bradford to move into second place in the Super League after a pulsating contest between two of the competition’s best sides.

The Bulls fought back after Saints had raced ahead with some spectacular tries, but couldn’t quite overhaul them in a tense climax.

St.Helens got off to a sensational start with a try after just 90 seconds. In our first attack, Martin Gleeson flicked the ball on to Darren Albert and the wingman scorched up the touchline, outflanking the Bradford defence before turning the ball inside for Jason Hooper to score.

Sean Long converted, but the Bulls looked to hit back immediately, a knock-on from Ricky Bibey giving them possession deep in the St Helens half. A pass from Paul Deacon sent Stuart Reardon over the line, but the full-back couldn’t control the ball and lost possession. From the ensuing scrum, Hooper scored an even more spectacular try, racing through a gap and sprinting 95 metres to score under the posts.

Long’s conversion made it 12 points in just five minutes and every time the Saints had the ball they looked dangerous. The Bulls managed to get back into the game when former Saint Paul Anderson trundled over from short range, Deacon’s conversion reducing the arrears to six points.

But this didn’t faze the home side and when Reardon knocked on deep in his own half, St Helens took full advantage. After three drives to the line, they worked the ball wide. Hooper fed Long, who sliced through a hesitant defence to score and leave himself another simple conversion.

Saints’ ability to strike from anywhere on the pitch was further demonstrated 10 minutes later when a neat short pass from Long sent Lee Gilmour through. He beat Reardon before showing good pace to reach the line. Long was again on target with the kick to make it 24-6.

Bradford weren’t playing badly and Deacon worked hard to get his side back into the game. A neat grubber to the line forced Saints to drop out from under their posts and a good pass from the scrum-half produced a try for Rob Parker that Deacon converted.

Long added a penalty just before half-time to send his side in with a 26-12 lead.

The Bulls began the second half in positive fashion, but the St Helens defence just managed to keep them at bay and Long nudged them further ahead with his second penalty. However, a couple of mistakes gave Bradford a good attacking platform, Paul Johnson exploiting the blindside to send Karl Pratt over in the corner.

Deacon’s conversion brought the Bulls back into the game at 28-18, but within minutes Saints once again stretched their lead with another superb score.

Gleeson broke from deep inside his own half, Hooper was on hand to take his pass and his arcing run took him to the posts for his hat-trick. Long’s conversion eased them further ahead going into the final quarter, but Bradford weren’t finished.

St Helens began to tire and fall off tackles and the Bulls hit them with two tries in as many minutes. Pratt claimed both, following up grubber kicks. Two conversions from Deacon made it 34-30 with 10 minutes remaining.

Sculthorpe landed a drop goal and Saints managed to hang on for a thrilling victory.

ST HELENS : Wellens; Gardner, Gleeson, Talau, Albert; Hooper, Long; Fozzard, Wilkin, Bibey, Gilmour, Joynt, Sculthorpe.

Replacements: Edmondson, Feaunati, Graham, J Roby.

BRADFORD : Reardon; Pratt, Johnson, Hape, Vainikolo, L Pryce; Deacon, Anderson, Paul, Fielden, Peacock, Langley, Swann.

Replacements : Vagana, Radford, Parker, A Smith.

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