Rugby League: Saints go shining through the hype

Simon Kelner sees rugby league's traditions survive the razzmatazz

Another day, another landslide. The points came thick and fast on a muggy afternoon at Wembley yesterday and when the count was completed St Helens were far more comfortable winners than the 10-points margin suggested.

Built on another consummate performance from their captain and scrum- half, Bobbie Goulding, and secured by crucial tries either side of half- time, St Helens took the trophy for the second season in succession with a little to spare.

Goulding's half-back partner, Tommy Martyn, won the man-of-the-match award for his two tries but it was a miraculous ankle tap on the Bradford centre Danny Peacock, who seemed certain to score with Saints only 16- 10 ahead just after the interval, that was possibly a more important intervention. Two minutes later, Bradford's inspirational scrum-half, Robbie Paul, left the field injured and, in the period he was off, Saints scored two more tries.

It must have been a dispiriting sight for the Bradford players to see the stewards take up their positions on the perimeter with the scoreboard reading 28-10 for Saints. That it didn't turn really ugly for the Bulls owed more to Saints relaxing and a dodgy refereeing decision that allowed a try for Glen Tomlinson. In truth, the game never reached the heights of last year's encounter but there was much to admire, particularly in an evenly contested first half.

For all that, it was once again a day to savour - a little wallowing in history, a touch of the hard sell of rugby league's brave new age and a game that showed up some of the supreme talents currently at work. All that, and a bomb scare.

Try as hard as it might, rugby league cannot quite give its past the slip. For all the we-will-we-will-rock-you razzmatazz, despite the aerodynamic skin-tight strips, notwithstanding the relentless hype of the Super League, one of the most traditional of sports had to honour its traditions on the day of the 100th Cup final. So, as well as a half-time parade of new- fangled club mascots - a wolf from Warrington, a lion from Swinton and a bull from Bradford - we were treated to a parade of heroes from a bygone age who, bizarrely, were driven round the stadium in vintage cars while Paul Young and Edwin Starr were strutting their stuff. You just don't know where you are with rugby league these days.

But for all the celebration of the Challenge Cup as the central point in the rugby league calendar there is no escaping the fact that yesterday's game represented a further erosion of one of the sport's foundation stones. This was the first time that the Challenge Cup competition has existed as largely a pre-season tournament. With the switch to a summer season the early rounds were completed with the players still in their winter coats and instead of the campaign building to a peak on a May day at Wembley, we are not yet half way through the season. As Sky TV takes more of a grip of the direction of the game - the Challenge Cup is still the property of the BBC - the premier knock-out competition will surely be forced further into the background.

Rupert Murdoch's money may be all that matters for rugby league at the moment, but some of the heirlooms are not yet ready to be pawned off.

THE paperback edition of Simon Kelner's book "To Jerusalem And Back" - the story of the making of the Super League - is available in bookshops this week (Pan, pounds 6.99).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam