St Helens put themselves back into third place in the Super League table with a dominant 46-12 victory over the free-falling Huddersfield Giants at Langtree Park.
Giants’ coach Paul Anderson, who spent the last two years of his playing career at St Helens, was taking charge of his second match at Huddersfield after taking up the job following the sacking of Nathan Brown, who is bound to take the reins at Saints in 2013. The Saints, meanwhile have been continuing their good run of form under the interim stewardship of Mike Rush as they picked up their 12th Super League win under the the guidance of their temporary coaching staff.
The Saints got the scoreboard rolling in the early stages against the beleaguered Huddersfield side with Lance Hohaia (pictured, right), who in recent weeks has begun to show the kind of form the Saints fans were expecting from the Kiwi international when he was announced as their marquee signing for 2012, made a superb weaving break from his own half into Giants territory setting up position for the opening try. The ball was switched to the right, with Hohaia moving it out to Paul Wellens who flicked it on to Sia Soliola, whose cut out ball found Tommy Makinson in the corner for 4-0.
The Saints side were cutting through the Huddersfield defence almost at will and almost added to their tally in the 10th minute, only for Micahel Shenton’s short ball to send Anthony Laffranchi through being deemed to have been passed forward.
However, Saints did score their second 3 minutes later with a neat set-move in the Giants half with scrum-half Jonny Lomax being the creator and finisher with his delayed ball to Chris Flannery seeing the Australian flick the ball back on the inside for the numer 7 to go in under the sticks. 10-0 with Makinson’s goal.
The lead was stretched to 16 points soon afterwards after Jon Wilkin’s high kick was claimed by Wellens, for the skipper to pass it out to prop Josh Perry who released it out to Francis Meli on the wing to leave the Samoan powerhouse winger to shrug off Scott Grix and go over in the corner in an archetypal strong finish in the corner. Makinson’s touchline conversion making it 16-0.
Huddersfield, who had barely been in the St Helens half did find some points in their first real attack on the Saints line. From a scrum Danny Brough kicked to the corner to find winger Luke George in the corner. Makinson produced a great tackle to prevent his opposite number from going over. However, straight from the play-the-ball ex-Saints Keith Mason charged on to the pass to dive over for the Giants’ first try.
In the 22nd minute Hohaia dummied and ran his way over the line, eluding the defenders to make it 22-6. The lead was extended further soon after in yet another attack on the Giants’ line with ex-London prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook barging his way over and doing well to twist and turn to get the ball down despite the attentions of two defenders. Makinson’s conversion giving Saints a 22-point lead.
Huddersfield, however did post the last try of the half, with the help of Danny Brough’s boot once again as the halfback’s kick found the ground and bounced up for Michael Lawrence who found Scott Grix on his inside for the Giants to make the scoreline 28-12.
The second half saw St Helens continue to dominate much of the proceedings, although with the game effectively in the bag they did lack the clinical execution seen in the first period. Nearly midway through the half, James Roby who produced another influential performance from dummy half, from the play-the-ball feinted to pass one way and then found Laffranchi on the inside for the Aussie forward to dive over.
Saints hit the 40-mark on 65 minutes after Roby’s excellent 40 metre run-in after a one-two with Laffranchi was given the nod by the video referee with it being adjudged there was no obstruction upon the Huddersfield defenders in the lead-up.
The scoring was completed in the 73rd minute with Roby’s pass finding Wellens for the vetereran fullback to ease his way past opposite number Greg Eden and after losing his feet rolled over for a simple touchdown. Makinson’s seventh conversion made it 46-12 and the Saints were back into third, despite Catalans’ 19-12 success over London the previous night. Huddersfield, once table-toppers currently lie in 7th position, after being elevated one place after Bradford’s points-deduction last week, and still 5 points inside the play-off places but will need to drastically turn round what has been a calamitous decline in form and confidence should they wish to guarantee their top 8 finish and hope to make an impact upon the crucial end-of-season series. Meanwhile, Saints’ title credentials will be tested out when they face Warrington in the derby at Langtree Park next Monday night.
- The saga at Bradford Bulls has continued to unfold with it being revealed that the RFL rejected the conditional bid made by the ABC Consortium late last week, with news that former Sports Minister and MP for Bradford South Gerry Sutcliffe is fronting another bid to buy the club. The RFL are understood to be considering paying the club’s wages for August which allow more time for the club to agree to a deal but the future of the club’s existence or status in the top-flight look very much in the balance. The team suffered a 50-22 loss at Warrington, which leaves them 2 points outside the top 8 following their 6-point deduction, although coach Mick Potter believes the play-offs are still an achievable target.
Super League XVII Round Twenty-two results:
Wigan Warriors 40-16 Castleford Tigers
Catalans Dragons 19-12 London Broncos
Widnes Vikings 26-32 Hull KR
Warrington Wolves 50-22 Bradford Bulls
Hull FC 34-26 Salford City Reds
St Helens 46-12 Huddersfield Giants
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 38-18 Leeds Rhinos
Featured Image: bbc.co.uk