St. Helens 36 Hull KR 16 (VIEW MATCH)
1985 Premiership final
Open rugby at its best!
Hull Kingston Rovers had dented the Saints' ambitions of top honours in the 1984/85 campaign, pipping them to the First Division Championship by three points and dumping them unceremoniously out of the Challenge Cup at Knowsley Road. There was a chance for revenge, however, as the two sides clashed in the Premiership Final at Elland Road, Leeds, with Rovers seeking their second successive League and Premiership 'double.' Yet on their day, the Saints, led by ace loose forward Harry Pinner, could hold their own with anyone. Indeed, it took just two minutes for the St.Helens attacking machine to swing into action. An astute ball from Pinner sent prop Peter Gorley surging through the Rovers' defence before handing on to Chris Arkwright, whose inside pass left hooker Gary Ainsworth with a 25 yard dash to the posts. Sean Day's conversion was a formality.
Garry Ainsworth scores
Although Rovers levelled the scores with a try and goal from Fairburn, the Saints responded with another devastating piece of support play. Second rower Roy Haggerty did the initial spadework, before feeding Barrie Ledger with a clever one-handed pass. Full-back Phil Veivers, backing up on the inside, finished the move in style!
Halfway through an entertaining first period, it was time for giant Australian centre Mal Meninga to make his presence felt. Mighty Mal latched onto a brilliant ball from Holding and surged down the left touchline, before being felled just short of the Rovers' 25 by a near-suicidal Fairburn crash-tackle! Quick hands by Holding, Platt, Pinner and Peters swept the ball across the field to create the perfect overlap for Barrie Ledger, whose searing pace did the rest. Hull KR soon reduced the deficit to 10-16 with a try from winger Laws. Stung out of their complacency, the St.Helens defence pinned the Humbersiders in their own half with some dynamic tackling from young second-rower Andy Platt. In a desperate attempt to get his threequarters moving, Rovers' loose forward Hall, a replacement for the injured Australian Gavin Miller, fired out a long wide pass -straight into the hands of Meninga - who gratefully cruised to the line from 30 yards. Day's goal gave the cock-a-hoop Saints a 22-10 advantage. Yet as half time approached, Kiwi prop mark Broadhurst crashed through to put centre Robinson in for an unconverted try.
The game was still in the melting pot after the interval, as the Saints, still to win a scrum, were forced to withstand a series of all-out assaults from a Rovers' side determined to gain the ascendancy. A Fairburn penalty gave the Robins fresh impetus at 22-16, until the unfortunate Hall attempted another disastrous lofted pass. Meninga loomed large once again, to pluck the ball out of the air and showed incredible pace for such a big man by holding off speedster Gary Clark and George Fairburn in an incredible 75 yard dash to the line! Mighty Mal's superb opportunism finally dispelled any chance of a ‘Rover's Return' as the Saints finished like they had begun, with some classic running rugby league! In the 72nd.minute, Harry Pinner crowned
a stunning Man-of-the-Match performance by waltzing past six bemused Hull KR defenders for the sixth St.Helens try, which Day converted.
Virtually on the final hooter, another superbly-timed Pinner pass sent Holding scorching to half-way before feeding Shaun Allen. Barrie Ledger gratefully accepted the substitute's overhead pass to clinch a Premiership record score of 36-16 and set the seal on a marvellous team performance and a truly classic encounter. Harry Pinner, whose leadership qualities and superb ball-handling skills had been so vital to Saints' success, proudly accepted the Premiership Trophy on behalf of his team-mates - after his 300th game for the club!