St Helens go four points clear at the summit of Super League with a hard fought victory over Warrington. Their first victory against the Wolves at Langtree Park.
A late fight back from Warrington just wasn’t good enough. Saints dominated the first half with tries from Joe Greenwood, Jon Wilkin and Adam Swift. Darryl Clarke was the only Warrington man to get over in the first forty.
Micky Higham’s early second half effort was cancelled out with tries from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tommy Makinson. Late scores from Kevin Penny and prop-forward Chris Hill clawed the Wolves back into touching distance but time ran out and they couldn’t finish of the comeback.
From start to finish it was a hard hitting game which saw youngster Greenwood leave the field with a suspected broken arm. Ben Evans also left with a hamstring injury whilst Ashton Sims received a nasty head wound in the first half.
Saints captain Wilkin said: “We’ve had a great start to the season, we haven’t been playing that well but we played really well in patches tonight.”
He added: “We always have good games against Warrington and tonight was no different, we have a lot of respect for them.”
Warrington’s Higham said: “We we’re a long way off where we needed to be tonight.”
The game was an extremely tight affair early on with Atkins’ break being the only big moment in the opening fifteen minutes. Atkins broke from deep before passing to Kevin Penny who was brought down ten metres out. Burns obstructed the quick play-the-ball but was not sin-binned, surprisingly.
Greenwood broke the deadlock when he crossed for Saints. The ball was shipped in field before Wilkin popped up a well weighted pass which Greenwood hit at pace and went over for his fourth of the season.
It wasn’t long until the Wolves were level when Hooker Clarke snuck over from just yards out. Saints did soon restore their lead however when Jordan Turner broke from deep before his kick attempt was blocked however he got a second chance and kicked the ball forward before an onrushing Wilkin collected and slid over.
Wilkin was instrumental in the final try of the half as well. The veteran threw a long looping pass from the centre of the sticks to winger Swift who crossed with ease. A brilliant play to give Saints a twelve point lead at the interval.
Warrington’s Higham said: “If you give the champions an eighteen point lead you’re always going to struggle to pull it back.”
Saints coach Kieran Cunningham said: “We had control of the game on numerous occasions but never really capitalised. Our game management was just slightly off.”
It was the Wolves who were first off the mark in the second half though. Again it was a try from Hooker but this time in the form of former Saints man Micky Higham who jumped from dummy half before jinking through the line and diving over.
Saints got back in the ascendency though as McCarthy-Scarsbrook crashed over on the back of a straight drive from close range. Ten minutes later Atelea Vea, unfashionably, broke from deep but couldn’t find a pass. He did get a quick play-the-ball however which Roby collected and threw out to the blind side where Makinson went over in the corner.
There was a late comeback attempt from the Wolves when Higham charged a Saints kick down before Chris Bridge collected. Bridge gave the ball to the pacier Penny who juggled the ball multiple times before bringing it in and going forty yards to score. With three minutes remaining Warrington scored their third try of the evening from directly behind the play-the-ball. Hill this time scooped up the ball before throwing an outrageous dummy and diving over.
Unfortunately for the Wolves they couldn’t find the final try to earn themselves a point and come away from Langtree Park with something.
Smith said: “We’ll learn a few lessons from tonight definitely.”
Warrington face Huddersfield next Friday night at the Halliwell Jones stadium.
Cunningham said: “The resilience in our side is second to none.”
The current table toppers Saints face a trip to Hull Kingston Rovers on Friday night and will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the season.