ON this day in 1988 Saints made history – winning the John Player Trophy for the first and last time in tense 15-14 triumph over Leeds at a muddy Central Park.

Paul Loughlin, with two tries and three goals provided all bar one of the points with Neil Holding’s drop goal making the difference between the sides at the end of a pulsating game.

Although the cigarette-sponsored knockout competition had existed since 1971, Saints had never got their mitts on the odd-looking trophy that consisted of a statue of a golden rugby player on a dark marble plinth.

Although Leeds were favourites, Alex Murphy’s men bounced into the game off the back of a fantastic Boxing Day comeback win over Wigan.

A David Creasser try from a surging break from Roy Powell gave Leeds the lead, before Loughlin’s momentum took him over at the kop end for the leveller.

It was a tight game, with the Loiners leading 14-9 at the break.

There was just one try in the second half, with Great Britain three-quarter Loughlin side-stepping and threading his way through the Leeds line for a wonder score.

The tall centre hoofed over the goal that gave Saints the lead for the first time – one they defended with every fibre of their being despite the relentless onslaught.

There was still drama, with Garry Schofield’s drop goal attempt hitting the post seven minutes from time.

Skipper Shane Cooper summed it up at the end when he said: “We tackled with our hearts for 40 minutes in that second half.”

Topping the tackle count that day was loose forward Andy Platt with 43.