Mon, Aug 27, 2007 - Page 18 News List

Saints down the Dragons in the Challenge Cup final

AFP, LONDON

James Roby of St Helens breaks free from the defense to score a try during the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final against France's Catalans Dragons at Wembley Stadium, London, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AP

Catalans Dragons coach Mick Potter said they would only benefit from the experience of being the first French side to play in the Challenge Cup final despite their 30-8 loss to St Helens.

The Saints won the showpiece on Saturday with a typically powerful and stylish performance before 84,241 fans in the first Challenge Cup final back at its traditional Wembley home following the London venue's redevelopment.

St Helens retained their trophy and kept up their chase for a second league and cup double, ensuring there was no fairytale ending for the first French team to reach the final.

"The experience of the big occasion is of great benefit to people even though in their own way they have played in big games," Potter said. "As a group of people they'll realize how important a couple of little things are, such as communication when you're fatigued and it's really noisy out there."

"The lads are devastated but at least the score wasn't catastrophic," he said. "You'd like it to be down to one try in the balance but it wasn't to be. The lads are very disappointed in how the game got away from them. We came up with too many errors and Saints just slowly pulled away."

Rugby league legend Stacey Jones, the Catalans Dragons' captain accepted St Helens deserved to win.

"It's very disappointing to lose in a final," New Zealand's former world player of the year said. "We were just beaten by probably the best club team in the world. They're just experienced at these sort of games and it just wasn't our day."

The unfancied Dragons held the Super League leaders at 0-0 for 33 minutes but Saints went in 12-4 up at halftime and never looked back.

Tries from James Roby, Paul Clough, Paul Wellens and two for Ade Gardner, plus Sean Long's five goals did the damage for Saints.

Justin Murphy and Younes Khattabi scored the tries for the Dragons.

It was the 11th success in the competition for World Club Challenge champions St Helens, who were captained by Keiron Cunningham.

Saints coach Daniel Anderson praised his team.

"I can't think of anyone that didn't play well out there," he said. "It was a great all-round team performance. I was concerned as we kept getting so close to their line but couldn't get over."

Around 2,000 Dragons fans traveled to Wembley, though there were several thousand more backing the underdogs.

Saints' stand-off Leon Pryce and full back Paul Wellens were named as joint men of the the match -- the first time the Lance Todd trophy has been shared since 1965.

"It's a fantastic effort," Wellens said. "I don't think we played our best rugby but grit and determination got us through. We've got to credit Catalans. They're a tough side and very physical and managed to force errors."

"I'm overwhelmed.We knew it was going to be a tough battle but in the end I think we showed we are worthy champions," Pryce said.

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