By Rachel Arnett (images courtesy of swpix)
This Round 10 fixture was a top-of-the-table clash between local rivals; Warrington Wolves and St Helens had built up the game all week so were ready to take the pitch to see who would take home the spoils.
The last time the Wire were at the Totally Wicked Stadium they booked their place in the Grand Final, so were looking for a repeat performance this time on the back of wins over the likes of Hull FC and London in recent weeks.
The Wire side saw the return of Mike Cooper and Jack Hughes in place of Harvey Livett and Danny Walker.
Saints suffered defeat in Catalans so were looking to bounce back. They made a couple of changes to their 17 with Welsby and Ashworth replaced by Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jonny Lomax.
The first half set off at some speed. Saints were the first with points on the board through a penalty kick but it was the Wire’s Blake Austin with the first try of the night. This kicked Saints into gear who went on to score three to have the lead at the break.
The second half saw Saints maintain a hold on the game, despite the Wire coming agonisingly close on occasion.
Lachlan Coote, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson, Alex Walmsley, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Zeb Taia, Dom Peyroux, Morgan Knowles
Subs: Joseph Paulo, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Kyle Amor, Matty Lees
Tries: Percival, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Lomax, Lees, Grace, Makinson
Goals: Coote (7)
Stefan Ratchford, Tom Lineham, Ryan Atkins, Toby King, Josh Charnley, Blake Austin, Declan Patton, Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Jack Hughes, Joe Philbin
Subs: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Jason Clark, Matt Davis, Lama Tasi
Tries: Austin, D Clark
Goals: Ratchford (2)
The game got underway at some pace, both sides looking to keep the ball alive and make some big drives forward.
Saints were awarded a penalty on nine minutes and opted to go for goal to settle things down. Coote was on target with the boot to edge the lead 2-0.
The Wire followed this up with a break by Ratchford and Charnley. Austin put the ball up high but Grace was underneath it, caught in goal setting up a drop-out. The visitors then challenged the line and, after keeping play alive in front of the posts, Austin was there to pick up the loose ball and score the opening try. The on-field decision was confirmed after a look by the video referee on 14 minutes. Ratchford added the conversion. 2-6
But the Saints had a response of their own, rallying on 20 minutes to put Percival over down their left. Coote missed the kick at goal to keep points level at six apiece.
He was on target with the penalty minutes later though to take back the narrow lead. 8-6
The Wire were down to 12 men as the half-hour mark approached after Cooper was shown a yellow for a high shot on Richardson. This gave Saints the attack from 10 metres out. But the Wire defence was quick to react and wrapped them up, taking back possession after just a few plays.
On 33 minutes Saints hit back as McCarthy-Scarsbrook barged over the line from close range to score. Coote lined up the conversion to make it 14-6. And they kept coming, firing at the line. Lomax found a gap with three minutes to the break. The kick was good. 20-6 at the break.
Two minutes into the second half and the video referee was looking at a possible Saints’ try. McCarthy-Scarsbrook following up a kick to the in-goal. The decision on the grounding was no try, Wire ball.
On 46 minutes the Wire would hit back; Murdoch-Masila and Austin both getting to within touching distance before Daryl Clark twisted in the tackle over the line to score. The conversion was good from Ratchford. 20-12
The Saints’ response, score one of their own. The Wire let the ball bounce after the kick and Lees took it cleanly to cross under the posts. An easy kick for Coote 26-12.
The Wire weren’t going to lie down though and looked to capitalise on a fumbled ball from a kick, Charnley picking up to cross in the corner. The try was awarded on the field but the video referee thought otherwise and chalked it off.
With just over 20 minutes of the game to play Grace ran 60 metres, weaving through the chasing defence to score. The video referee confirmed the try. Lineham looked to have gone in late, with the incident put on report, giving Saints’ two kicks at goal. Coote added both to make it an eight-point try. 34-12
Makinson was next over down their right edge to score in the corner. The kick from the touchline was missed. 38-12 And that is how it stayed until the final hooter.