St Helens 34 v 12 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
|MATCH NOTES : Saints clinch the League Leaders trophy. |
MATCH REPORT : It was not so much Challenge Cup hangover but Challenge Cup deja vu as Saints overcame a difficult start to earn the points that secured the League Leaders’ Shield for the second consecutive season.
Although they lacked the fluency of last week’s attacking display Saints, who welcomed back Mike Bennett from long-term injury, were still far too good for the Wildcats.
After Jamie Rooney slotted over a third-minute penalty, relegation-threatened Wakefield increased their lead when Jason Demetriou touched down in the right corner.
Just as at Twickenham, Saints were kept on the back foot for most of the opening quarter but a characteristically strong defensive performance restricted the Wildcats to one try, although Demetriou was inches away from doubling his tally.
Slowly Saints asserted their authority and once they had the territorial platform the try, which was scored by Paul Wellens, had an air of inevitability about it.
Both teams had chances to take the lead with dangerous kicks by Rooney for Wakefield and Lyon for Saints almost creating tries.
Two tries in four minutes just before half-time helped to settle the nerves of the Saints fans and went a long way to settling the contest.
First Lyon found a way through before Lee Gilmour touched down after Gardner’s break.
Although Wakefield came out strongly, Saints were able to maintain their ten-point advantage until substitute Adam Watene forced his way over from close range.
However endeavour is not sufficient on its own in Super League and Saints once again showed their clinical nature when they punished a mistake by Rooney. When the Wakefield stand-off had kicked the ball out on the full, Saints took full advantage with Long’s pinpoint crossfield kick being claimed by Ade Gardner who touched down in the right corner.
The Wildcats were then dealt two devastating blows: Greek international Michael Korkidas was sent off for head-butting Jamie Lyon on the ground then Leon Pryce scored Saints fifth try from the resulting possession to seal victory.
A last-minute try by Gardner added the gloss to the scoreboard for Saints, who can only be denied top spot by a mathematical meltdown in the remaining two rounds of Super League.
Saints: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Gilmour, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, P Anderson, Sculthorpe, V Anderson, Hooper.
Interchanges: Roby, Graham, Fa’asavalu, Bennett.
Tries: Gardner (2), Wellens, Lyon, Gilmour, Pryce.
Goals: Lyon (3/5), Hooper.
Wildcats: Halpenny, Demetriou, Evans, Atkins, Tadulala, Rooney, Jeffries, Korkidas, Obst, Watene, Henderson, Solomona, Betham.
Interchanges: M Field, Elima, Latu, March.
Tries: Demetriou, Watene.
Goals: Rooney (2/3)
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