St Helens and Sydney Roosters lock horns on Saturday evening to be crowned the best club side in the world. The Roosters are the reigning World Club Challenge holders and they have a little bit of a past history with the Saints. Will history repeat itself?
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Sydney Roosters are the most successful Australian team in the World Club Challenge, they have won the trophy on four separate occasions and they will be going for their fifth and back-to-back wins when they face St Helens at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
The Roosters won the first ever World Club Challenge back in 1976 when they were operating under the name the Eastern Suburbs. They defeated Saturday’s opponents – St Helens – 25-2 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
It would be another 27 years before these two would meet again in the World Club Challenge. The Roosters came over to England in 2003 with a very strong squad with the likes of Anthony Minichiello, Justin Hodges, Shannon Hegarty, Brad Fittler, Jason Cayless, Craig Fitzgibbon, Luke Ricketson and Adrian Morley in their starting XIII.
Saints were no mugs in 2003. They were the Super League champions for a reason. They also had a star-studded line-up with Darren Albert, Martin Gleeson, Paul Newlove, Ade Gardner, Tommy Martyn, Sean Long, Chris Joynt and Paul Sculthorpe all starting.
The Roosters were unplayable that day and they embarrassed the Saints by keeping them scoreless in a 38-0 drubbing at the Reebok Stadium in Bolton.
Former Leeds Rhinos star Morley managed to score a try for the Roosters that day, while Fitzgibbon, Todd Byrne, Fittler and Todd Payten all crossed for tries as the NRL was the clear winner that night.
It was very rare to see a St Helens team featuring all their stars torn apart as easy as the Roosters did, but at that time the Australian competition was miles ahead of Super League.
Bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 11/1 that the Sydney Roosters will once again prevent St Helens from scoring – a big ask but St Helens are the only team in the history of the World Club Challenge to be niled – and they have been done twice.
The majority of Super League fans will be cheering on Saints this Saturday – some Wigan and Warrington supporters may opt against doing so – and although this Saints team look capable of scoring points against any side, the nagging doubts of being niled will still lie with St Helens.
You could say that 2003 was a freak result, but the Saints were niled again in 2015 when the South Sydney Rabbitohs came over.
The Bunnies recorded a 39-0 win over the Saints – which would have infuriated their fierce rivals – the Roosters – for beating their record score.
Joel Reddy crossed for two tries for the Bunnies, while Glenn Stewart, Dylan Walker, Greg Inglis, Luke Keary and Chris McQueen all got over the line.
Now, you might think Saints are too good to be kept scoreless again, look at how well they played last season. But, remember, better St Helens teams than the one now have been hammered in this tournament before.