ALL things considered, The Wire made a decent fist of attempting to overhaul the newly crowned League Leaders’ Shield winners 16 days before they meet again in the Challenge Cup Final.

It was only in the final 17 minutes that Saints put the game to bed.

At that point The Wire, already missing 11 regulars, had no substitutes left due to injuries and they had nine players on the field who were new to this level or had not racked up much game time recently.

So as the tiredness set in, and penalties mounted up, to hold Super League’s leading scorers to just one more try was a huge effort.

Acknowledgement is made to the fact that Saints, too, were missing half-a-dozen regulars but the entertainment served up to over 10,000 fans in the middle of holiday season is credit to the strength in depth at both clubs and should further whet the appetite for August 24 at Wembley.

With former Saints and England scrum-half Matty Smith making his Wire debut as leading orchestrator after just one full training session, it was clear Steve Price’s side needed to play to structure as much as possible.

And it is testament to the work put in behind the scenes with the coaches that all the players seemed to know their roles in a team combination that had never been together before.

Special mentions go to 17-year-olds Riley Dean and Josh Thewlis.

It was a big ask for Dean to step into Blake Austin’s shoes against this season’s runaway leaders but he showed some good touches, while accepting that not everything he tried worked out for him.

But he will be better for the experience, as will Thewlis – usually a full-back – who marked only his second Super League game with a try away from his natural role on the wing up against Golden Boot Award winner Tommy Makinson.

Ex-England rugby union international Luther Burrell, on his long awaited home debut, will grow from getting 80 minutes under his belt in the 13-a-side game for the first time in 10 years.

He was caught out in defence when Matty Costello scored Saints’ crucial penultimate try after 63 minutes and on the night his biggest threat was under a high kick but this season is about preparing him as an all-round weapon for next year.

Stefan Ratchford was the glue holding things together and he was clinical in picking the right passes for the two wingers’ tries.

Co-captain Chris Hill, trojan Bennie Westwood in his first outing since May, Harvey Livett, Sitaleki Akauola and stand-in hooker Matt Davis – after Danny Walker’s injury – all caught the eye with the spade work.

Ultimately, Wolves suffered a sixth defeat in eight Super League outings but there were more positives than negatives.


. First time in history Wire have fielded two 17-year-olds in their starting line-up

. Super League debut for Riley Dean

. Wire Super League debut for Matty Smith

. Home Super League debut for Luther Burrell and Luis Johnson

. First home start for Danny Walker

. Sixth loss in eight Super League outings


Super League Round 25, Thursday, August 8, 2019

Warrington Wolves…12  St Helens…30

Wolves: Stefan Ratchford; Jake Mamo, Luther Burrell, Bryson Goodwin, Josh Thewlis; Riley Dean, Matty Smith; Chris Hill, Danny Walker, Sitaleki Akauola, Harvey Livett, Ben Currie, Ben Westwood. Subs: Ben Murdoch-Masila, Lama Tasi, Matt Davis, Luis Johnson.

Saints: Jack Welsby, Tommy Makinson, Kevin Naiqama, Matty Costello, Regan Grace; Jonny Lomax, Danny Richardson; Luke Thompson, Aaron Smith, Matty Lees, Dom Peyroux, Zeb Taia, Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Joseph Paulo, Kyle Amor, Jack Ashworth, James Bentley.

Scoring: Mamo try, 2mins, 4-0; Naiqama try, 11mins, Richardson goal, 4-6; Thewlis try, 25mins, 8-6; Lomax try, 29mins, Richardson goal, 8-12; Ratchford penalty goal, 40mins, 10-12; Paulo try, 44mins, Richardson goal, 10-18; Ratchford penalty, 56mins, 12-18; Costello try, 63mins, Richardson goal, 12-24; Makinson try, 67mins, Richardson goal, 12-30.

Penalties: Wolves 9 Saints 6

Referee: Ben Thaler

Attendance: 10,987

Top man: Readers poll to follow