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Saints squeeze past Salford
St Helens withstood a second-half bombardment to extend their outstanding unbeaten away record in the engage Super League to 14 games after edging past spirited Salford 12-10.
Not since May 13, 2005, when they lost 44-6 against Hull at the KC Stadium, have Saints tasted defeat on their Super League travels.
But rarely will they be pushed harder than this after being forced to defend like demons for the vast majority of the second half as the Reds cut the deficit to just two points.
Karl Harrison?s men went into the game having won seven of their opening 10 games but two first-half tries orchestrated by the outstanding Sean Long effectively sealed the points for Saints.
The hard-fought success, coming only four days after their 34-20 win at Catalans Dragons, gave Daniel Anderson?s table-topping side their 11th-straight win this term. A breathless opening saw St Helens open the scoring after five minutes with the recalled Paul Sculthorpe the architect.
The Saints skipper found Long to his left with a swift offload and the scrum-half worked the ball out to Leon Pryce.
Pryce, again revelling in his favoured stand-off role, showed outstanding pace and clever footwork to work his way past a clutch of defenders before finding Jason Hooper with the perfect offload.
Hooper crossed the line under challenge but after long deliberation from the video referee, Bob Connolly, the try was awarded.
Jamie Lyon landed the goal via the crossbar before Salford came back strongly and claimed a try of their own after 11 minutes.
Andrew Dunemann, who dovetailed superbly with Luke Robinson at half-back, misplaced a pass and the error looked to have put paid to a promising move.
But Reds winger David Hodgson collected the loose ball 20 metres out and scampered past the visitors? rearguard to cross the line in the right-hand corner.
John Wilshere failed to convert and Saints took advantage by edging further ahead after 19 minutes.
Long produced a moment of magic 20 metres out when he collected a bouncing ball on the fifth tackle and darted past an opponent before spotting Ian Hardman making tracks on the left flank.
The Saints scrum-half flighted an inch-perfect crossfield kick into the left-hand corner and Hardman arrived completely unmarked to touch down.
Lyon missed the conversion but Saints continued to probe and it took a wonderful tackle by Karl Fitzpatrick five minutes before the break to halt Pryce just short of the line.
However, Saints extended their lead five minutes after the restart courtesy of Lyon?s penalty but the response from the Reds was impressive to say the least.
They attacked the visitors? line with aggression and purpose and only Saints? determined scrambling defence prevented Salford crossing the line.
The hosts poured forward in wave after wave of attack and their pressure finally told in the closing stages when Malcolm Alker teed up Simon Finnigan to cross the line.
Wilshere converted to reduce the deficit to just two points at 10-12 but Saints survived several late scares to preserve their slender advantage and thus maintain their excellent away record.
Salford (4) 10. Tries: Hodgson, Finnigan. Goals: Wilshere.
St Helens (10) 12. Tries: Hooper, Hardman. Goals: Lyon 2.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, Moule, Wilshere, Dunemann, Robinson, Baldwin, Alker, Highton, Coley, Brocklehurst, Finnigan. Replacements: Haggerty, Charles, Clayton, Myler.
St Helens: Wellens, Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Hardman, Pryce, Long, P. Anderson, Cunningham, Fozzard, Sculthorpe, Gilmour, Hooper. Replacements: Cayless, Roby, V. Anderson, Graham.
Referee: R Silverwood (Dewsbury)