Saints return to form

Official English Super League Round 23 game report - Friday 5th August 2005. Full time: Warrington Wolves 10 St Helens 30.

Saints return to form

Warrington?s wave of optimism was shattered as St Helens bounced back from their Powergen Challenge Cup nightmare to reclaim top spot at the engage Super League summit after a 30-10 win.

After the Wolves this week announced the sensational signing of Australian scrum-half Andrew Johns, a renewed feel-good factor has engulfed the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

But that was destroyed as Warrington slumped to their third Super League defeat of the season against Daniel Anderson?s side.

Widely regarded as the world?s best player, Johns will join the Wolves next month on a short-term deal - and his arrival cannot come soon enough for coach Paul Cullen.

A chronic lack of guile from his side during the opening period allowed Saints to soak up the pressure and establish an insurmountable 18-0 interval lead.

The Wolves began to bare their teeth after the restart, claiming tries from former Saints star Martin Gleeson and Paul Noone.

But Ade Gardner?s breakaway effort effectively sealed the points before Paul Wellens added a late fifth try to leave Saints with an impressive 21 victories from 24 Super League encounters against their local rivals.

Saints wasted little time in reasserting their title credentials after their dismal Powergen Challenge Cup 38-4 defeat to Hull last week - and opened the scoring after just five minutes.

Hooker Keiron Cunningham found Sean Long from the play-the-ball and his intelligent offload found Mike Bennett storming forward to cross the line.

Saints skipper Paul Sculthorpe added the extras before Long almost burst through for a second touchdown only to be thwarted by Warrington?s scrambling defence.

However, Sculthorpe converted an 11th-minute penalty, awarded for an offside infringement, to put his side 8-0 up before Warrington began to pin the visitors back inside their own 20-metre line.

But Saints? excellent defence held firm and after Warrington hooker Jon Clarke was sin-binned for holding down, Saints extended their lead further shortly before the half hour mark.

Replacement James Graham collected another exquisite offload from Cunningham to cross the line unopposed.

Sculthorpe again kicked successfully to put St Helens well in control at 14-0 before a bewildering array of inter-passing culminated in Long grounding in the right-hand corner after good work from Jamie Lyon, Darren Albert and Wellens.

Sculthorpe failed to convert but Saints? interval lead was a healthy one at 18-0.

However, Warrington dragged themselves back into the game eight minutes after the restart when Great Britain Test centre Gleeson collected Logan Swann?s delightful pass and crossed the line.

Chris Bridge converted to reduce the arrears further and with a huge crowd urging the hosts on at every opportunity, Warrington were buoyant.

Indeed they claimed their second try of the game after 55 minutes when replacement Noone finished off a well-worked move in the left-hand corner to raise the temperature yet further.

Saints, as ever, remained a potent threat on the counter-attack and after breaking from their own line on the hour mark, Gardner collected Willie Talau?s pass to cross the line and effectively seal the points.

Great Britain full-back Wellens put the icing on the cake with a close-range finish for a try converted by Sculthorpe - his fifth from six attempts to confirm Warrington?s third defeat in their last four games.

Warrington (0) 10. Tries: Martin Gleeson, Noone. Goals: Bridge.

St Helens (18) 30. Tries: Bennett, Graham, Long, Gardner, Wellens. Goals: Sculthorpe 5.

Warrington: Grose, Fa?afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Appo, Bridge, N. Wood, Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood.

Replacements: Mark Gleeson, Noone, P. Wood, Lima.

St Helens: Wellens, Albert, Lyon, Talau, Gardner, Hooper, Long, Fozzard, Cunningham, P. Anderson, Bennett, Wilkin, Sculthorpe.

Replacements: Roby, Graham, Fa?asavalu, Edmondson.

Referee: Ian Smith (Rotherham)

Thanks to www.superleague for the above review

Att: 12,762