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HALF TIME: Warrington Wolves 4 St Helens 20
WOLVES got the start they wanted, scoring their first try of 2014 after just 80 seconds, but it went downhill quickly after that.
Jordan Turner’s knock-on deep inside his own half gave the home side chance to shape up from a scrum.
After Roy Asotasi was held up five metres short, a long wide ball to the right from Michael Monaghan found Chris Bridge in enough space to squeeze a killer pass to Joel Monaghan and last season’s top try scorer flew over in the corner despite the covering attempts of Adam Swift.
Stefan Ratchford got plenty of weight and height behind his touchline conversion attempt, kicking into a stiff breeze, but his effort steered wide to leave it at 4-0.
Three dubious decisions from referee Phil Bentham went Saints’ way in the build-up to their ninth minute reply. This sponsorship with Specsavers for the officials is clearly not working!
After Saints got on the front foot from the first penalty of the game, there seemed to be a knock-on that Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook got away with and after Wolves’ scrambling defence held out Ryan Atkins was pulled up for a knock-on that seemed to go backwards.
From the next set, Turner skilfully offloaded around Chris Riley for Tommy Makinson to dive over in the corner but the pass looked forward. Luke Walsh’s goal from the touchline put Saints two points clear.
The visitors were soon 12-4 in front, stand off Gary Wheeler being given the room to change his direction twice before feeding James Roby through a hole to the left of the sticks. Walsh’s extras put Saints in control after 16 minutes.
It soon got worse for Wolves, who felt aggrieved that Turner was not considered to have knocked on from the re-start.
A Walsh 40/20 paved the way for former Wakefield prop Kyle Amor to stretch his arm out of an almost completed tackle by Atkins and Trent Waterhouse. Walsh’s extras made it 18-4 to complete a rotten spell without a touch of the ball for Tony Smith’s side.
Wolves were rattled and dishevelled, seemingly unable to put two passes together as they tried to find a way back against a Saints defence buoyed by their scores and firing on all cylinders.
No protection from Bentham was coming Wolves’ way either as Sia Soliola committed a high tackle that looked a credible red card offence but not a word was said with the Samoan, just a penalty.
And a Jon Wilkin high tackle on Chris Riley came soon after.
Wolves only looked as though they were finding some rhythm again when Gareth O’Brien arrived on the field, getting a grip of organising the shape and structure as well as steering the side around the field.
But they still never looked like getting over the try line and the first-half scoring was completed with a Walsh penalty goal.
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