AFTER the damp squib of the 44-6 mauling by Melbourne Storm the year before, nobody gave Saints much a prayer in 2001 when Brisbane Broncos flew in.

After all Wayne Bennett’s roster, running out at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium, included some of the biggest names in world rugby league.

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Although Saints were up against the likes of Darren Lockyer, Lote Tuqiri, Wendell Sailor, Shaun Berrigan, Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva and Gorden Tallis, they did not go into the game star-struck or over-awed.

Indeed, skipper Chris Joynt led a team out that night that was primed, prepared and focused – and as importantly had real belief despite the doubters away from the immediate playing group and staff.

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And they did the business too, rallying from an 18-6 deficit to win the match with second half tries from Sean Long and Chris Joynt adding to Paul Sculthorpe’s earlier effort to level the scores.

Long and Sculthorpe banged over a couple of one-pointers and within days “St Helens – Home of the World Champions” was greeting motorists entering the borough from every direction.

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Reliving one of the greatest night’s in the club’s history Joynt said: “Saints had been written off after the previous year’s disappointing performance.

“I maintain to this day that when we walked out at the Reebok , only about 22 people really knew something special was going to happen that night.

“Nobody gave us a chance. We knew something amazing was on the cards because of our training. We were flying.

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“The game plan was not rocket science and there were little things we did well. One of those things was pinning Wendell Sailor down because he was one of those players who would try and fight you all the time. We knew how quick a team they were at playing the ball and building momentum.

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“Every time he got the ball I had a ploy of gripping him and winding him up, knowing full well that he would want to fight me and as a result they would have the slowest play the ball.”

Saints had something else on their side that night – and it came from above.

A calm, but cold night suddenly turned into a freak hailstorm – something that the boys from the Sunshine State suddenly did not fancy.

Joynt continued: “When the hailstones came Sailor turned to me and said, ‘What the hell is this?’

“They were used to swanning around Brisbane and that was a big factor in swinging the game.

“The hailstorm was the cue for our match-levelling try.

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“It was down my favoured left flank, Paul Newlove had gone through but he gave me an absolute shocker of a pass, which I had to reach around for.

“I tucked it under my arm and it was a clear run to the line, then next thing is Gorden Tallis came in late as I touched down.

“It winded me but I was not bothered because I knew I had got the all-important score.

“Even though there was quite a bit of time to play, they knew we had more or less got them.

“We knew they could score from anywhere – but that surge never came.

“I reckon that was testimony to our fitness and determination.”

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Saints were World Champions – and they would do it all again six years later in a carbon copy win against Broncos at Bolton.

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Saints: Wellens; Hoppe, Iro, Newlove, Sullivan; Martyn, Long; Fairleigh, Cunningham, Nickle, Joynt, Shiels, Sculthorpe. Subs: Matautia, Jonkers, Stewart, Stankevitch.

Brisbane: Lockyer; Tuqiri, Kelly, De Vere, Sailor; Berrigan, Prince; Webcke, Priddis, Civoniceva, Tallis, Carlaw, Lee. Subs: C Walker, S Walker, Harrison, Meyer.