Saints savour taste of success after barren run
Halifax 18 St Helens 26
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Monday 02 June 1997
A team largely composed of reserves, with an 18-year-old debutant in Jason Johnson at stand-off, performed magnificently to build up a 26-point lead against all the odds at Thrum Hall. They then showed limitless reserves of enthusiasm to hold off the inevitable Halifax backlash and record the club's first win since Wembley.
The vibrant spirit that Saints displayed will do much to wipe out the unhappy memories of what has happened since, but they also needed a little good fortune to start them on their way. Their first try, scored by Anthony Sullivan after six minutes, seemed to include a forward pass, but any further luck that Saints enjoyed they thoroughly earned.
On 14 minutes, Bobbie Goulding, marshalling the young players around him with great authority, spotted a gap behind Halifax's rearguard and the race to his kick was won by Danny Arnold.
Halifax were not helping themselves, Martin Pearson's wild pass being scooped up by Vila Matautia, who found Sullivan supporting him on his shoulder to claim his second try. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, Alan Hunte, one potent attacker returning to Saints' ranks last night, cashed in on some brilliant running by Chris Morley and Arnold to go over for their fourth try.
They carried on the second half, Goulding dribbling the ball past the Halifax defence before side-footing it into the corner for Arnold to emulate Sullivan by grabbing his second.
Halifax tend to play to their potential for only part of the game and this was where they started in earnest. Chris Chester's dummy began the fightback and David Bouveng took an inside pass from Pearson for a second try.
When Martin Moana got through to make it three in 10 minutes, it seemed Saints' lead would not be sufficient to save them, but, with loose forward Dean Busby outstanding, theyhung on.
Halifax: Umaga; Amone, Moana, Bouveng, Tuilagi; Pearson, Dean; Harrison, Rowley, Slicker, Highton, Gillespie, Chester. Substitutes used: Powell, Munro, Jackson. Substitute not used: Bastian.
St Helens: Haigh; Arnold, Hunte, Matautia, Ivan; Johnson, Goulding; Leatham, Anderson, O'Neill, Booth, Morley, Busby. Substitutes used: Barrow, Shiel, Cross, O'Loughlin.
Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).
Bradford, the Super League leaders, go into the World Club Championship on the back of a 40-24 win at Salford. Graeme Bradley was superb, including two tries in a fine performance.
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