ON this day 14 years ago Saints were sitting on top of the world for the second time after again toppling Brisbane Broncos 18-14 in a pulsating clash at Bolton.

And just like in 2001, the first time they had beaten the Broncos, the underdogs had to come from behind to take the crown.

In a night that was scripted like a Roy of the Rovers comic strip, the image of Paul Sculthorpe purposely striding on to the pitch 20 minutes in for his first appearance since the previous September is etched in the memory.

And in the next hour or so he proved yet again what an ultimate warrior and competitor he is – particularly when it comes to taking on the cream of Australia.


The Broncos had enjoyed the lion's share of territorial advantage in that opening quarter, much assisted by a superior kicking game from Golden Boot Darren Lockyer, whose cross- kick engineered the opener for Cory Parker.

Trailing 8-0, the Saints fans in the 23,207 crowd roared the entrance of Sculthorpe, with the players responding by lifting their game as both sides pressed.

Crucially Saints hit the Broncos with a sucker punch just before the break, after using the full width of the pitch for Ade Gardner to cut inside two tacklers to cross the line.

Sculthorpe, who had been out with a knee injury for six months, confidently and magnificently stroked the ball between the aitches from the touchline and Saints went in with their tails up.

Alas, that upbeat mood was deflated somewhat within two minutes of the restart when Darius Boyd collected another masterful kick from Lockyer to touch down - and Saints again had it all to do.

Keiron Cunningham now on, after being a 50/50 before the game, hit a determined Sculthorpe with a flat pass, like he has done dozens of times before, for a crucial try. Sculthorpe levelled it with his conversion as the tension mounted.

It was tense….and bitterly cold, with Saints again falling behind after a Parker penalty nudged the Broncos back in front.

But with ten minutes to go Long’s steepling punt to the corner was attacked with vigour by Gardner, who plucked it from the air to beat Boyd and then ground it.

Sculthorpe made no mistake with the conversion and then Saints used all their grit to cling on.

Rarely has a countdown to zero being hollered with such relish!

Just like in 2001, there were heroes in the ranks from one to 17. But the massive lift Sculthorpe gave to the side that night was invaluable.

Prop Jason Cayless had been huge in that game, but the man of the match was young James Roby who caused the Aussies consternation all night with his sharp, rapier like thrusts.

And Gardner, too, earned plaudits for recovering from his early mishap to grab the clincher.

Saints: Wellens, Gardner, Gidley, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Roby, Cayless, Gilmour, Bennett, Wilkin. Subs: Sculthorpe, Graham, Hargreaves, Cunningham.

Brisbane: Hunt, Boyd, Tate, Hodges, Michaels, Lockyer, Perry, Carlaw, Berrigan, Civoniceva, Parker, Thorn, Carroll. Subs: Thaiday, Eastwood, Hannant, Emmett