|28th Apr 2001|| Silk Cut Challenge Cup Final||NEUTRAL||68250||HT:13-4|
|MATCH NOTES : Sean Long Lance Todd Trophy Winner
100th Challenge Cup Final |
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : By Simon Stone, PA Sport
All-conquering St Helens booked their place in history with victory in the 100th Challenge Cup final to complete a unique clean sweep.
The Super League champions added the game's glamour event to their Grand Final and World Club Challenge successes and confirmed their status as the greatest team of recent years.
A rain-sodden Twickenham may not quite be what the game's rulers had in mind when they made the switch to summer six years ago but St Helens proved yet again that they are the team for all seasons.
They also finally put paid to the myth that rugby league's great entertainers cannot tackle.
Under talismanic coach Ian Millward, Saints have added a touch of steel to their defence and today it proved unpenetrable despite the heroic efforts of Bradford's mercurial Paul brothers.
Stand-off Henry Paul, the most high-profile target of rugby union, scored all his side's points in front of his suitors with three penalty goals.
But it was the boot of St Helens scrum-half Sean Long that proved decisive in a compelling, if at times scrappy, final watched by a near-capacity Twickenham crowd of 68,250.
Man of the match Long peppered the Bradford defence with a series of clever grubber kicks on a surface made treacherous by steady rain.
Saints scored both their tries from his handy footwork, although it needed close scrutiny by busy video referee Steve Cross to confirm the scores.
While Saints, who lost 10-3 to Batley in very first final back in 1895, played with their customary confidence and flair, Bradford were strangely hesitant and error-prone.
The Bulls might also have been thinking back to their consecutive Wembley defeats of 1996 and 1997 as St Helens emphasised their big-match temperament.
Saints withstood an early onslaught from the Bulls before taking advantage of the 11th-minute sin-binning of centre Shane Rigon.
The Australian clearly obstructed Tommy Martyn's pursuit of Long's kick and within a minute the champions had used their numerical superiority to telling effect.
Long's second grubber rebounded off a post into the arms of loose forward Paul Sculthorpe and his third set up the game's first try for half-back partner Tommy Martyn, who timed his run to perfection to grab the vital touch.
Long's trusty boot then created the opening for hooker Keiron Cunningham to touch down after the ball had taken a wicked deflection off defender Daniel Gartner.
Long added both conversions and Martyn put more daylight between the teams with a 40th-minute drop goal.
Bradford relied heavily on the Paul brothers, who tried in vain to wield their magic, while there were occasional threatening bursts from Mike Forshaw and Michael Withers, showing little discomfort from his broken hand.
But Saints dug deep when it mattered and deservedly regained the trophy they last held four years ago.
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