Saints had led the league championship throughout the
season but ended up being humbled at the first play off hurdle by a Wigan
side that had finished thirteen points below them. The highly anticipated
semi final kicked off in the evening to avoid a clash with the Blackburn v
Wolverhampton (Dave Whelan Broken Leg) FA Cup Final that was being televised
by the BBC in the afternoon.
Wigan had decided to swap positions between Mick Sullivan
and Syd Fenton with the former going to Stand Off and the latter to the
wing. This was a tactic to halt Alex Murphy but what transpired was both he
and Sullivan being sent off just before half time for fighting with the
score 7-2 to Saints at that point.
Saints had taken the lead with a penalty goal from Austin
Rhodes but Fred Griffiths responded with one of his own for 2-2. Saints
found the first try when Ken Large sent Tom van Vollenhoven under the posts
for a 7-2 lead after Rhodes converted. Then came the send off incident and
Wigan began to take control after that. Billy Boston and Vince Karalius
switched to half back and it was Boston who was more effective. He scored
before half time with an unconverted try.
Boston had been kept quiet by Murphy until the send offs
but was now making a big impact on the game. They chipped into a 9-7 lead
with two penalty goals from Griffiths before Eric Ashton sent Boston in
for his second try, having a first looked like he'd bombed a two man
overlap chance. Griffiths converted for 14-7 and although Rhodes brought
that lead back to a converted try at 14-9, Wigan starved Saints out of
possession but only found the match clinching try in the final minute when
John Barton powered past weak tackling from James Rose. Griffiths converted
and Saints were left to be declared the "Champions that never were".
St Helens 7 Wigan 5
Eric Clay (Rothwell)
Other Championship Play Off Semi Final Result
Saturday 7th May 1960 Wakefield Trinity 24 Hull 4 (2nd Place v 3rd Place)
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