FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Paul Wellens ran in a hat-trick of tries as St Helens showed their class with an emphatic 40-16 victory over Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
It was a new name, home and kit for the home side, formerly known at London Broncos, but Saints spoiled the party by running in seven tries to Harlequins? three.
The visitors established a 24-6 half-time lead, Wellens crossing twice and Ade Gardner once after Tyrone Smith had cancelled out the opener from Jason Cayless.
Rikki Sheriffe replied for Quins, but Wellens got his third and Jason Hooper and Jamie Lyon made the win safe before a consolation arrived from Paul Sykes.
The visitors left out captain Paul Sculthorpe as he recovers after knee surgery but Sean Long returned and Cayless, Leon Pryce and Francis Meli were handed debuts.
Meli made an inauspicious start, struggling with kicks from Matt Gafa and Thomas Leuluai, but fellow Kiwi Cayless began well, taking Keiron Cunningham?s pass to score after seven minutes.
At the other end, Pat Weisner was dragged down onto the line after prop Karl Temata went striding through a gaping hole. Moments later Luke Dorn?s kick to the right corner found Smith, who touched down.
After 23 minutes Harlequins conceded a second penalty for an incorrect play-the-ball and Saints? pressure culminated in Wellens crashing over.
A minute later James Roby, on for Cunningham, made a break through the centre and Wellens was on his shoulder to add his second.
Quins tried to force the pace but handling errors were their undoing and the visitors? next try demonstrated the gulf in class.
Smith?s fumble enabled Pryce, Meli and Hooper to make ground before Long kicked to Lyon in space on the wing.
The Australian centre kept the ball in play with a deft reverse flick for Gardner to canter over, then added his fourth conversion.
Harlequins got their second try when Gardner failed in his attempt to cut out Leuluai?s pass to Sheriffe, who was left with a simple run-in.
Wellens had chances to complete his hat-trick before the interval and did so midway through the second period when he rounded Zebastian Luisi to go under the posts.
Long supplied the ball for Hooper?s try and Lyon finished from halfway after an interception, before Danny Williams set up Sykes.
Harlequins RL (6) 16.
Tries: Smith, Sheriffe, Sykes. Goals: Gafa, Sykes.
St Helens (24) 40.
Tries: Cayless, Wellens 3, Gardner, Hooper, Lyon. Goals: Lyon 6.
Harlequins RL: Gafa, Sheriffe, Lucky Luisi, Smith, Bradley-Qalilawa, Dorn, Leuluai, Temata, Weisner, Heckenberg, Purdham, Hopkins, Williams.
Replacements: Haumono, Mills, Sykes, Tookey.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli, Pryce, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, Cayless, Gilmour, Wilkin, Hooper.
Replacements: Roby, Graham, P. Anderson, Fa?asavalu.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)