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Saturday, 19 October, 2002, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Long breaks Bulls' hearts
Sean Long drops the winning goal to seal victory for St Helens
Long struck in the last minute to seal victory

Bradford 18-19 St Helens

Sean Long's last-minute drop goal gave St Helens a dramatic victory over Bradford in the Tetley's Super League Grand Final.

With time running out, the Great Britain international made amends for his below-par performance in the Challenge Cup final earlier in the year to rob Bradford of their title.

It was a fitting climax to a hard-fought and gripping match in front of a record-breaking crowd.

More than 61,000 were packed into Old Trafford - a record for Super League's showpiece event - to see the two best sides in Britain match each other stride for stride over the entire 80 minutes.

  Scoreboard
Bulls:
Tries: Naylor, Paul, Withers
Cons: Deacon 2
Pen: Deacon
Saints:
Tries: Bennett, Long, Gleason
Cons: Long 2
Pen: Long
Drop: Long

Bradford pinned Saints deep in their own half from the kick-off and scored the game's first try inside the first five minutes.

With Paul Wellens lying injured after taking a clout to the head, the ball was fed out to Scott Naylor, who cut back inside from the right touchline before going over.

As Wellens trudged off looking dazed, Paul Deacon landed the kick to make it 6-0 to the Bulls.

Deacon had the chance to extend the lead on nine minutes only to place his penalty wide of the right-hand post.

But the Bulls' halfback seemed to have made amends less then a minute later when he scythed his way through the Saints defence to dive over under the posts.

Russell Smith was not so sure, though, asking the video referee to rule whether there had been a knock-on earlier in the move.

Bradford players smother try-scorer Robbie Paul
Paul's try put Bradford back in front

And the Castleford official was right to query the score, much to the relief of both Saints players and supporters.

Bradford continued to make the more penetrating runs, with Saints struggling to make any inroads.

Although Deacon subsequently landed a penalty to make it 8-0 to the Bulls, the tide was beginning to turn.

And when Mike Bennett's try on 25 minutes was given the thumbs-up by the video referee, Saints really started to stamp their mark on the match.

Long, who converted Bennett's score to reduce the deficit to two points, pounced for his side's second try seven minutes before the break after Bradford had fumbled the ball 10 yards out from their own line.

And his conversion ensured Saints went in 12-8 up at the interval.

Fluffed kicks

Within eight minutes of the restart, Bradford had turned the match on its head again, scoring tries number two and three to lead 18-12.

Robbie Paul burst through to touch down under the posts before Michael Withers, scorer of a hat-trick of tries in last year's Grand Final, went over in the corner.

But Saints hit back again, Martin Gleeson's try on 56 minutes making it 18-16 before Long landed a penalty on 66 minutes to bring the sides level.

Long, Deacon and Sculthorpe all fluffed drop-goal attempts in the last 10 minutes before Long's one-pointer in the last 60 seconds sealed a dramatic win.


Bradford: Withers; Vaikona, Naylor, Costin, Vainikolo; Paul, Deacon; Vagana, Lowes, Fielden, Gartner, Peacock, Forshaw. Subs: Pryce, McDermott, Anderson, Gilmour.

St Helens: Wellens, Stewart, Gleeson, Newlove, Albert, Sculthorpe, Long, Britt, Cunningham, Ward, Jonkers, Bennett, Joynt. Subs: Stankevitch, Higham, Shiels, Hoppe.

Referee: Russell Smith (Castleford).

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Graham Colley
"The big occasion suited St Helens"
St Helens' Keiron Cunningham
"Bradford had us rattled at times"
Bradford boss Brian Noble
"We're going to be around for a while to come"

Bulls 18-19 Saints

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