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GUARDIAN VERDICT: Warrington Wolves 10 St Helens 22
WOLVES never really had the answers to Saints’ energised defending in a disappointing night at The Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Nathan Brown’s men spoilt much of what Wolves were trying to achieve, with the pressure of fast approaching defenders causing mistimed or misdirected passes, knock ons and wrong decision making.
That was particularly obvious in the opening 22 minutes when Saints capitalised on their early dominance of possession and territory by taking a 14-0 lead that they were good enough to hold on to for the rest of the game.
Take out those 22 minutes and Wolves outscored their opponents, with Chris Bridge’s fine try on the stroke of half time giving Wolves some hope going into the second half but his second score on his season’s debut in the 79th minute proved to be nothing more than a consolation after James Roby had killed the game with an opportunist try from Chris Hill’s fumble in the 71st minute.
Saints created few other scoring chances, which is credit to Wolves’ improving defence as the game wore on, but this was a victory for the visitors’ ability to be clinical with the ball as well as being extremely stubborn without it.
Wolves did not seem to adapt to referee Richard Silverwood’s leniency with slow play-the-balls as well as the red V men, who produced their best performance of the season so far - by far!
Saints controlled the ruck area so well that the lack of playing space for Wolves made it look as though the visitors were playing with 15 men.
Tony Smith’s boys tried to force Saints into a re-think about being so fast off the defensive line with regular little kicks in behind but they were quick to snuff out any trouble, with full back Jonny Lomax in inspired form deputising for Paul Wellens.
Chris Bridge made his first appearance since the round 27 win at Widnes in September, 2012.
Wolves’ 14th defeat from 15 meetings with Saints in all competitions at The Halliwell Jones Stadium since its opening in 2004.
Of the 49 meetings with St Helens in all competitions during the Super League era, Wolves have won only five and drawn two.
Ryan Atkins made his 100th Wolves appearance.
Brett Hodgson has now scored points in each of his past 11 games against St Helens, with both Huddersfield and Warrington.
Stefan Ratchford’s 100th Super League appearance, including games with former club Salford.
Richie Myler needs two tries for a career century of touchdowns.
One more try needed for Ben Westwood to clock up his 100th in primrose and blue.
Super League Round 6
Friday, March 8, 2013
Wolves: Brett Hodgson; Joel Monaghan, Chris Bridge, Ryan Atkins, Chris Riley; Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler; Paul Wood, Michael Monaghan, Chris Hill, Ben Westwood, Simon Grix, Mike Cooper. Subs: Garreth Carvell, Micky Higham, Tyrone McCarthy, Ben Currie.
Saints: Jonny Lomax; Ade Gardner, Jordan Turner, Josh Jones, Francis Meli; Lance Hohaia, Anthony Laffranchi, James Roby, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sia Soliola, Willie Manu, Mark Flanagan. Subs: Tony Puletua, Paul Clough, Anthony Walker, Joe Greenwood.
Scoring: Turner try, 5mins, 0-4; Hohaia try, 11mins, Lomax conversion, 0-10; Meli try, 22mins, 0-14; Bridge try, 40+mins, 4-14; Lomax penalty goal, 61mins, 4-16; Roby try, 71mins, Lomax conversion, 4-22; Bridge try, Hodgson conversion, 79mins, 10-22.
Pens: Wolves 7 Saints 5
Referee: Richard Silverwood
Top man: Chris Bridge