In the build-up to our anniversary date of the founding of the Club, we’re looking at various parts of our gloriously storied history.
It’s Day 3 of our 15 days ahead of #Saints150, so we rewind to the three times that St.Helens has been crowned the World Club Champions.
St.Helens 20-18 Brisbane Broncos – Friday, 26th January
As back-to-back Super League Champions in 1999 and 2000, the Saints wanted to earn their first world title by beating the NRL’s best, fuelled by the loss in the World Club Challenge to Melbourne in the millennium year.
Brisbane Broncos were the visitors to these shores and the contest took place at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium (now known as the Toughsheet Community Stadium). It was a thriller. The Broncos held an 18-6 lead in the second half, with Paul Sculthorpe scoring the Red V’s first try with a brilliant dodge under the visitors’ defence.
With the team behind, Sean Long sparked a fightback with a well-worked move allowing him to run into space. The half-back then fed the ball to the left edge for Paul Newlove to break the line and pass back inside to captain Chris Joynt for the Saints’ leveler.
With less than seven minutes left, Sculthorpe booted a drop goal to give St.Helens the advantage, before Long finished off the game on our Club’s first-ever World Title with another one-pointer.
St.Helens 18-14 Brisbane Broncos – Friday, 23rd February
2006 is a year that Saints fans will always remember, winning a historic treble of the Challenge Cup, the League Leader’s Shield, and the Super League title under Head Coach Daniel Anderson. It seemed like the Saints were unstoppable.
Wayne Bennett’s Brisbane returned to the UK and again faced the Red V in Bolton, with some not fancying the Saints yet again after a slower start to the new campaign. Ade Gardener did not take a cross-field bomb close to the line allowing Broncos to get the edge with a converted Corey Parker try, they followed it with a penalty conversion too.
Classic Saints play shifting the ball out wide allowed Gardener to get a little bit of redemption for his earlier error ahead of the second half.
Brisbane struck again though following the break off another kick but cleanly taken by the Broncos’ Darius Boyd this time. The game was nip and tuck, Paul Sculthorpe leveled proceedings from a Keiron Cunningham pass near the line, but another penalty for Bennett’s men edged them back in front.
Near the 70th-minute mark, captain Sean Long launched a hail-Mary-like bomb to the right wing and Gardner out-jumped his opposing men and went straight to ground for his second score, the game-winning score.
Penrith Panthers 12-13 St Helens – Saturday, 18th February
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, finally, St Helens would be returning to the world’s stage after securing their fourth Super League title in a row in 2022. The challenge was a big one, taking on what many have considered to be one of the NRL’s greatest ever sides, the then back-to-back title winners Penrith Panthers.
Adding to the difficulty was the Saints traveling down to Australia for the game in the hopes of becoming the first team to beat an Aussie side in the country in the summer era of rugby league.
A lot of the talk in the build-up was about the weather, the kick-off even got moved due to safety concerns around the heat and humidity in Western Sydney – but both sides were focussed on making their bit of history.
It was a dream first half for the Saints, with the conditions throughout seeing heavy rain and thunderstorms with lightning only adding to the drama on the field. Curtis Sironen got on the end of a delayed Jonny Lomax pass to break the Panthers line, he fed a pass to Jack Welsby for the opening points. Tommy Makinson added the conversion too.
The Greatest Of All Time, captain James Roby started a short-side play ten metres out, Welsby fired a short ball to Konrad Hurrell who bulldozed over the hosts’ defence for the Red V’s second and a 10-0 lead.
Into the second half, Makinson now off the field due to HIA protocols, Mark Percival took over kicking duties and slotted over a penalty. But Penrith fired back with Izack Tago, and a last-gasp Brian To’o score to bring the game level and we went into extra time.
With nerves on edge and the next points the winning ones, Lewis Dodd received a trademark Roby perfect pass to slot over the drop-goal and send the Saints into dreamland. History made, our Club’s third World Club Championship!