St. Helens 44 Hunslet 22 (VIEW MATCH)
1959 Championship final
van Vollenhoven hat-trick turns the tide.
Ace South African wingman Tom van Vollenhoven scored a record 392 tries for Saints, but his first of an eventual hat-trick in this points extravaganza was arguably the best of the lot! Picture the scene in this eagerly-awaited climax to the season: Star-studded, but patently out-of-touch Saints find themselves 12-4 down after 25 minutes against unfashionable Hunslet. Enter van Vollenhoven, courtesy of half-backs Alex Murphy and Wilf Smith, along with centre Doug Greenall, whose move from the scrum-base gave the former Springbok no more than just a ghost of a chance, two feet from touch and 75 yards out! Little did the massive crowd assembled on the dusty slopes of the Odsal amphitheatre on a stifling late spring afternoon realise they were about to witness an epic try, arguably the best ever seen in a Championship Final! Greenall's deft pass saw Voll race away from Hunslet 'policeman' Willie Walker and then break the tackle of full-back Billy Langton on half-way. Covering defenders Brian Shaw, Jim Stockdill and Don Hatfield were left floundering by uncanny change of pace and sledgehammer hand-off before Tom majestically threaded his way to the Hunslet try-line.
Hunslet raid repelled
The try galvanised hitherto shell-shocked Saints into concerted action and with Austin Rhodes's goal meaning their deficit was now only 12-9, skipper Alan Prescott's men released the shackles to indulge in the free-flowing rugby which is Saints' birthright. The final score was a record in a Championship Final, as was the 10-goal tally of full-back Rhodes, who had switched from scrum-half only a fortnight previously following a knee injury to regular choice Glyn Moses.
A gallant Hunslet side lacked nothing in guts and determination and had the consolation of scoring the highest number of points by a losing team, but simply could not cope with the speed and fitness of a now super-charged Saints, whose opening salvo had been two penalty goals by Rhodes, but - spurred by Vollenhoven's timely intervention - they notched further tries from Murphy (2), Jan Prinsloo, Wilf Smith and Dick Huddart.