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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 October, 2004, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Rugby League: Bulls sweep all before them
By Phil Gordos

James Lowes and Robbie Paul lift the Super League trophy
For Bradford, 2003 more than made up for the disappointment of 2002, when they were beaten by Sean Long's last-gasp drop goal in the Super League Grand Final.

They bounced back with a vengeance, winning the Challenge Cup, the Minor Premiership and the Super League crown.

To cap a brilliant 12 months for the Bulls, second-rower Jamie Peacock walked off with the Man of Steel award and Brian Noble was named coach of the year.

By contrast, St Helens will want to forget 2003 as quickly as possible.

They began the year as Super League champions but were quickly demoted to also-rans as Bradford, Leeds and Wigan fought it out for the major honours.

The signs were ominous for the Saints as early as February, when they were hammered 38-0 in the World Club Challenge.

And the stuffing was really knocked out of Ian Millward's side in their Challenge Cup semi-final against Leeds.

In one of the most dramatic games ever witnessed, Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield landed a touchline conversion with just seconds to go to take the tie into extra-time.

Then Danny McGuire scored his second try of the match to steer Leeds into the final.

That was about as it good as it got for the Rhinos.

They were edged out 22-20 by Bradford at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium and went on to lose four more times to the Bulls.

Chev Walker's season ended prematurely when he was jailed

It was just as traumatic off the field at Headingley.

Chev Walker and Ryan Bailey were jailed for their part in a city centre brawl and coach Daryl Powell announced he would be stepping down at the end of the season, to be replaced by Huddersfield's Tony Smith.

There was another coaching shake-up at Wigan.

Stuart Raper, who led the Warriors to Challenge Cup glory in 2002, decided he would be leaving his post to return to Australia.

But, following a surprise defeat to Widnes, he was promptly relieved of his responsibilities with a large chunk of the season still remaining.

Mike Gregory, took charge at the JJB Stadium, albeit on a caretaker basis, but was eventually handed a two-year contract after steering the Warriors to the Grand Final, where they were beaten by Bradford.

Tony Anderson kept his job as Halifax coach despite the club's relegation.

His side won one Super League match all season - and that was wiped out when they were found guilty of breaching the salary cap.

St Helens and Hull also fell foul of salary cap regulations.

But for Hull, it was not the two-point deduction which ultimately cost them a place in the play-offs but the massive injury problems they encountered all year.

Drugs were also a problem in 2003, with Saints hooker Kieron Cunningham escaping a one-year suspended ban for testing positive for the hormone substance HCG.

Australia captain Darren Lockyer celebrates Ashes success
Down under, Adrian Morley continued to shine for the Sydney Roosters.

He helped them win the World Club Challenge and narrowly missed out on a second successive NRL title.

Sadly for Great Britain, he was sent off after just 12 seconds of the first Ashes Test against Australia.

He tried to make amends but could not stop the Kangaroos from claiming a 3-0 series win.

Australia skipper Darren Lockyer had added reason to celebrate.

The Brisbane full-back was voted the best player in the world and received the prestigious Golden Boot trophy.




SPORTS REVIEW 2003

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FUNNY OLD YEAR

FAREWELL TO...

SPORTS QUIZ 2003
 

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