Warrington Wolves produced a dominant performance at Langtee Park on Monday night to defeat St Helens 22-12 and move 5 points clear of Saints in second place and just 3 points behind leaders Wigan, who they face next week, in what could yet become an interesting race for the League Leaders Shield.
The visitors enjoyed much of the territory and possession in the early stages as they dominated the Saints forwards in the opening exchanges. And it was with only two minutes on the clock that the Wire posted the first try, after forcing a goal line drop-out, the ball was spread to fullback Brett Hodgson who was adjudged by the video referee, despite being brought down just short, to have got the ball on the line with momentum carrying it over. The Australian’s attempt to convert his own try hit the upright to keep it at 4-0.
However, the lead was soon extended as former Saint Lee Brier’s chip kick to the corner was fumbled by Francis Meli to provide young prop Chris Hill a gift from a few yards out. Hodgson duly converting this time for 10-0 in as many minutes.
Soon after it looked as though Warrington had further pressed their advatage with another Briers kick troubling Saints’ Samoan winger for Joel Monaghan to touch down before the video referee decided that Monaghan had knocked the ball forward in goal in the build-up.
After being completely outmuscled in the opening quarter, Saints did bring themselves back into the game as the momentum swung midway through the half. Following a loose offload by Hill as Warrington looked to attack again in th Saints half, the hosts made the most of their first real attack in Wolves territory as the ball was moved out with speed to the right with centre Michael Shenton crashing over. Tommy Makinson’s conversion from out wide reducing the arrears t 10-6.
As the Wolves began to concede a consecutive number of penalties, Saints were well and truly back in the game, although Jonny Lomax was dubiously puled back for a forward pass when the Warrington line had been broken. And Francis Meli’s superb break down the left hand touchline provided Saints with another opportunity only for the inside pass to Hohaia to go to ground. Saints’last chance to score just before the bell was blown as Loui McCarthy-Scarsbrook put down a Jamea Roby pass in front of the sticks and they went in at 10-6 down in a match that had threatened to have run away from them at one point.
However, Warrington began the second half in similar fashion to the first and from a penalty for a high tackle, Trent Waterhouse eased over through the space from a Hodgson pass to restore a 10-point advantage for the Wolves. The visitors thought they had extended the lead again soon after, only for winger Chris Riley’s foot being shown to have been in touch by the video referee.
After Saints spilled the ball as they attacked the Warrington line, Richie Myler made an 80-metre break and looked on his way to score only for Lance Hohaia to chase the scrumhalf down, as Saints hung on in the match by their fingernails.
With Warrington completely on top, Riley also had another try scrubbed out with Ryan Atkins’ pass ruled to have been forward to just keep Saints in the match. However, Warrington did finally strike the killer blow when Riley scooped up an Atkins pass to go over with Hodgson’s goal making it 22-6.
Saints, who seemed to lack direction on the occasions they visited the Warrington half, did produce a well-worked try with skipper Paul Wellens’ inside pass being returned as he ran on the angle to go over near the posts with 7 minutes remaining to threaten the kind of comeback that Saints have inflicted on the Wolves so often in the past but on this occasion this never looked like materialising as Warrington held on for their fourth win over Saints in the Super League era.
Super League XVII Round Twenty-three results:
Wigan Warriors 48-10 Hull FC
London Broncos 40-28 Salford City Reds
Hull KR 24-25 Leeds Rhinos
Huddersfield Giants 36-18 Catalans Dragons
Castleford Tigers 12-40 Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
Bradford Bulls 38-26 Widnes Vikings
St Helens 12-22 Warrington Wolves
Image: Ian D. Hall