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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 21:54 GMT
Sydney crush St Helens
Saints' Darren Albert fails to get through the Sydney Roosters defence.
Saints could not get through the Roosters defence
St Helens 0-38 Sydney Roosters

The World Club Challenge title is heading back to Australia after Sydney Roosters demolished St Helens at the Reebok Stadium.

After victories for the Saints in 2001 and Bradford Bulls last year, Sydney reasserted Australian dominance in dramatic style.

A tight opening half hour saw the Roosters edge ahead through three penalties.

And the Australian side then surged clear with quick tries from Craig Fitzgibbon and Adrian Morley.

It turned out to be a lesson for us in how to play rugby

St Helens'
Paul Sculthorpe

That left Super League champions St Helens trailing 18-0 at the break, and there was no way back in the second half.

A brief period of possession deep in Roosters territory gave the home fans hope, but disaster struck just before the hour as Sydney scored a try that infuriated the St Helens fans.

Brett Finch knocked the ball forward as he made a tackle.

Under new rules introduced to Super League this year it is not ruled a knock on if the player is not targeting the ball.

The referee and video official decided that was the case and Finch fed the flying Todd Byrne, who raced home for a converted try.

Brad Fittler then scored an interception try and Fitzgibbon's conversion took Sydney into a 30-0 lead.

MATCH DETAILS
St Helens 0
Sydney Roosters 38
Tries: Fitzgibbon, Morley, Byrne, Fittler, Payten
Cons: Fitzgibbon 5
Pens: Fitzgibbon 5

Another penalty gave Fitzgibbon 20 points for the night - a World Club Challenge record - and he added the extras when Todd Payten crossed for the Roosters' fifth and final try of the night.

St Helens' Paul Sculthorpe was not happy about Byrne's try being given.

"I think it was a blatant knock-on, and there's only one man in the stadium who thought it wasn't - and he was the one that matters," said Sculthpore.

But the Saints star admitted that the Roosters had been the better side and deserved to win.

It's not often you get to be a world champion

Sydney Rooster's Brad Fittler

"It turned out to be a lesson for us in how to play rugby. No excuses - the best team won by far.

"We defended OK in the first half, only conceding two tries off kicks, but in the second half they ran riot."

Roosters' former Australian captain Brad Fittler was delighted to take the title back to Australia.

"It's not often you get to be a world champion - everyone worked hard for each other, and our defence was great," he said.

"It's awesome. We controlled ourselves well. There are a lot of young fellas here, and they're a credit to the team."


St Helens: Albert, Gardner, Gleeson, Newlove, Stewart, Martyn, Long, Britt, Hooper, Stankevitch, Joynt, Smith, Sculthorpe.
Replacements: Ward, Jonkers, Higham, Edmondson.

Sydney Roosters: Sydney: A. Minichiello, Byrne, Flannery, Hodges, Hegarty, Fittler, Wing, Cayless, Crocker, Cusack, Morley, Fitzgibbon, Ricketson.
Subs: Catic, Payten, Robinson, Finch.

Referee: Russell Smith (Castleford).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Dave Oates
"St Helens were no match for the Australians"
St Helens coach Ian Millward
"The better team won"
Sydney Roosters' Brett Finch
"It's just fantastic"
See also:

14 Feb 03 | Rugby League
14 Feb 03 | Photo Galleries
12 Feb 03 | Rugby League
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