|24th Jun 2006|| Super League||HOME||8307||HT:6-10|
|Age in brackets is at time of match - Total average age for this team is 26. - ** non-playing sub|
MATCH REPORT : Keiron Cunningham was the difference as Saints got back to winning ways against Salford City Reds, but the team performance was far more industrious than inspirational.
In a game that rarely sparked, marked improvements in Saints’ discipline and defence set the platform for their fifteenth win in Super League XI.
Salford coach Karl Harrison was clearly agitated at being on the wrong end of a 12-3 penalty count, but he will be concerned as only two wins in their last seven games has seen his side’s place in the play-offs come under increased threat.
Despite missing a handful of first-team regulars, which necessitated a debut for winger Daley Williams, Salford started brightly and forced an early drop-out.
In truth it was a rare foray upfield for the visitors, who only got on the scoreboard after 37 minutes when Gareth Haggerty brushed through some weak tackling.
By then Saints had scored twice and missed out on at least three excellent opportunities.
Leon Pryce crossed after seven minutes, but Saints struggled to capitalise on further opportunities they carved out: Francis Meli knocked on in the act of scoring after Sean Long’s bomb was spilt by David Hodgson; Ade Gardner couldn’t hold Jamie Lyon’s pass with the line open; strong Salford defence dislodged the ball from Paul Wellens’s grasp as the Saints full-back went for the line.
Jamie Lyon did score, adding the finish to Cunningham’s crossfield run, but Haggerty’s try reduced the half-time deficit to just four points.
The anxiety of the first-half was removed by two tries in three minutes that put the result beyond doubt. Jon Wilkin kept low to find the tryline from Cunningham’s pass, then Saints went the length of the field in five tackles before Paul Sculthorpe was the recipient of a fortuitous bounce to score his first try in two months.
With the game drifting to its conclusion, Lyon threaded his way through from ten metres and Gardner latched onto Wilkin’s kick for further tries for the home side. Only two successful conversions from six attempts prevented the gloss from being added to the scoreline.
Further concerns were the placing on report of Jason Hooper for a late tackle and a knee injury to Francis Meli that, while seemingly not as serious as first feared, is still expected to keep him sidelined for a number of games.
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