WIRE paid the price against the Super League leaders for not scoring enough points in a first half they mostly dominated.

The 8-0 interval lead, accrued with help from a Daryl Clark try, was scant reward for outmuscling Saints - unbeaten in 13 matches - down the middle on their own turf in the opening 40 minutes.

Few or no teams have kept Saints to ‘nil’ in a half of rugby this year but Wire’s fast-approaching and ferocious defence had the hosts on the rack in a pulsating derby at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

But Wire could not find the openings to cash in and Justin Holbrook’s side grew a leg at the back end of the half.

Within a minute of the second period Jonny Lomax’s break continued by Mark Percival handed Ben Barba a converted try that undid all of Wire’s earlier hard work and left the game in the melting pot until the very last kick of the game.

When Ben Murdoch-Masila went high on Saints prop Luke Thompson with just four seconds left on the clock Danny Richardson stepped up to boot home a stunning 55-metre penalty goal to hand his side not only the lead for the first time but victory with the last act of the game.

After Lomax’s 65th-minute try had brought the teams level at 12-12 Wire had their chances to find a killer blow of their own.

They were camped on the Saints line for four consecutive sets at one point but were unable to cross.

Three drop-goal attempts, two from Tyrone Roberts and one from Stefan Ratchford, failed miserably partly through some lack of composure when it mattered.

Saints’ Jon Wilkin got away with not being square at the play-the-ball and hunting down Roberts for his second attempt.

There were far more positives than negatives to take out of this Wire display though.

Packmen Mike Cooper, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Ben Westwood and Daryl Clark were immense as Wire took a game of high intensity to the runaway table toppers.

The standard of Wire’s defence was a number of octaves higher than in previous weeks, often leaving Saints unsure with the ball.

Effort and commitment was top notch in a clash that whets the appetite not only for the Challenge Cup semi finals but the Super 8s too.

The Wire, despite the heartbreaking defeat after putting everything into it, put down a marker with this display.

No teams will be eager to face Pricey’s boys if they continue to play like this.

Wolves need to sort out their drop-goal set-ups though, because they have not delivered in a few recent close contests and there will likely be more of them over the coming weeks.


. Wolves will end the 23 rounds in third or fourth place, depending on Castleford’s result at Widnes Vikings on Sunday

. Saints’ unbeaten run extends to 14 matches and is the best in Super League at this time

. Westwood’s 414th Super League appearance takes him to eighth on the competition’s all-time list


St Helens 14 Warrington Wolves 12

Super League Round 23, Thursday, July 26, 2018

St Helens…14 Warrington Wolves…12

Saints: Ben Barba; Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson; Kyle Amor, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Dominique Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin. Subs: Theo Fages, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Luke Douglas, Morgan Knowles.

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Josh Charnley, Toby King, Bryson Goodwin, Tom Lineham; Kevin Brown, Tyrone Roberts; Chris Hill, Daryl Clark, Mike Cooper, Jack Hughes, Harvey Livett, Ben Westwood. Subs: Dec Patton, Ben Murdoch-Masila, Sitaleki Akauola, Joe Philbin.

Scoring: Clark try, 12mins, Roberts conversion, 0-6; Roberts penalty, 22mins, 0-8; Barba try, 41mins, Ratchford goal, 6-8; Roberts penalty, 50mins; 6-10; Roberts penalty, 53mins, 6-12; Lomax try, 65mins, Richardson goal, 12-12; Richardson penalty, 80mins, 14-12.

Penalties: Saints 8 Wolves 6

Referee: James Child

Attendance: 12,454

Top Man (Guardian readers’ poll): VOTE HERE