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  Thursday, 28 November, 2002, 13:40 GMT
Rugby League: Saints joy
Sean Long (left) celebrates another Super League title for St Helens while Kris Radlinski holds aloft the Challenge Cup
A year to savour for Sean Long (left) and Kris Radlinski

Great Britain left it late to record their one and only Test win of 2002.

But their 16-10 triumph over New Zealand on 23 November was perhaps a fitting way to bring the curtain down on another big year for the game in this country.

Record-breaking defeat at the hands of Australia aside, this was another hugely successful 12 months for British rugby league.

Bradford kicked the year off in fantastic fashion, defeating NRL champions the Newcastle Knights in February's World Club Challenge.

Wigan then upset the odds to lift the Challenge Cup in April thanks to a spirited victory over St Helens at Murrayfield.

And Saints made amends for their Edinburgh nightmare by becoming Super League kings for the third time in four years on a thrilling night in October.

That the three main trophies were won by three different clubs showed that the domestic game was in a pretty healthy state.

But, when rugby league is attempting to match the worldwide appeal of union, it is the international arena on which so much rests these days.

The crushing 64-10 defeat at the hands of Australia in July was hardly the kind of publicity that rugby league in Britain needed in that case.

But, thanks to their performances against the Kiwis, the Lions have gone some way to repairing the damage.

The key now is to run the Kangaroos a lot closer than they did in Sydney.

And with an enhanced international programme, David Waite's side will at least get the chance to pit their wits against the world champions on a more regular basis.

With players of the calibre of Paul Sculthorpe, the Lions certainly have the talent to take on the best.

His reputation was already pretty formidable, but the Saints star marked himself down as one of the greats of the modern game by becoming the first person to collect back-to-back Man of Steel titles.

Neil Kelly landed the coach award for steering Widnes Vikings to a seventh-placed finish in their debut Super League season.

Had Karl Harrison managed to prevent Salford from sliding out of the top flight, he may well have pipped Kelly to the silverware.

As it was, the Reds swapped places with the Huddersfield Giants, who regained their place in the top flight at the first attempt after going through the season unbeaten.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Great Britain's Paul Sculthorpe
"We were always confident of our own ability"
Wigan captain Andy Farrell
"To lift that trophy is something special"
In-depth look back at a wonderful year of sport

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See also:

15 Oct 02 | Super League
19 Mar 02 | Rugby League
06 Oct 02 | Rugby League
03 Sep 02 | Rugby League
22 Sep 02 | Super League
22 Sep 02 | Super League
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