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FINAL WORD: A history of epic battles with Saints
SAINTS’ visits to The Halliwell Jones Stadium over the past 10 years have produced more dramatic, controversial and exciting action than with any other opponent.
That is reflected in eight full houses in 14 Super League encounters, generating the matches with best atmosphere too.
Saints, having won all but one of their visits, have the best record of any guest club.
Three particular battle-royals stand out in my mind.
Ian Millward celebrated as if the league title had been won in round four on March 4, 2005.
His side had certainly pulled off a miracle on a wet and controversial night of six video referee decisions, having trailed 16-4 at the 74th-minute mark after tries from Henry Fa’afili and Graham Appo.
But after ex-Saints academy player Andy Bracek was penalised on his own 10-metre line for not playing the ball correctly, much to the anger of boss Paul Cullen, the visitors were clinical.
Tries from Darren Albert and Micky Higham left it 16-14 and Wolves fans had started chanting the 10-second countdown on the big-screen clock when a mid-air scramble for a Jamie Lyon high kick left Keiron Cunningham picking up the pieces to score the match-winning try.
It was particularly sickening for home supporters because Saints had also stolen last-gasp victory six months earlier when Paul Sculthorpe’s conversion to Jason Hooper’s try brought a 24-26 result. Many felt Hooper should have been in the sin bin at the time for a third late tackle on Lee Briers.
Wolves finally gained their first win at The Halliwell Jones Stadium against Saints in 2011.
A class try from Matt King helped Wolves to an 18-0 cushion inside 15 minutes but Saints hit back to lead by four points at the break.
After Paul Wood’s try put Wolves 30-22 in front, Saints’ re-start incredibly bounced off the crossbar and over the dead-ball line.
From the resulting set, Brett Hodgson slipped Francis Meli’s tackle for the decisive score.
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