Dubious decision inspires Saints

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The Independent Online
Rugby League

DAVE HADFIELD

St Helens 58 Halifax 20

Saints made Halifax pay dearly for the sin of going to sleep at half- time, roasting them with half an hour of the most blistering rugby.

Trailing 16-10 at the break and looking capable of losing this match, the sort of scoring blitz they are increasingly making their trade mark saw St Helens romp clear.

Halifax's disintegration began with a dubious decision, referee David Campbell ruling that Karl Harrison had passed forward to Wayne Parker. Saints duly won the scrum, scored through the outstanding Chris Joynt, and never looked back.

In rapid succession, Keiron Cunningham, Karle Hammond twice and, after a brilliant 50-yard run Ian Pickavance, all went over. Anthony Sullivan then completed his second hat-trick in four days, increasing his tally to four after Vila Matautia had also charged in for Saints.

By that time, Halifax were down to 12 men, their captain Harrison, simmering ever since the ruling that began the collapse, welcoming Chris Morley, the Saints 60th-minute substitute, with a high tackle and getting himself sent off.

It was an extraordinary turnaround after a first half, in which Halifax threatened to draw level with Leeds just two points behind Wigan at the top of the Championship. Their South Pacific influence, with three Western Samoans and a Tongan in their back line, was well to the fore as Carl Gilllespie and Mike Umaga went in for tries and John Schuster landed four goals.

The fact that Saints were as close as they were at half-time owed something to two borderline passes from Paul Loughlin to Sullivan being ruled legal.

Some of the Halifax handling was every bit as breathtaking as Saints at their best, but when the pressure was on them they proved woefully brittle. They did manage another try near the end from their Samoan debutant, Fereti Tuilaigi, but by then Saints were relaxing and casually surveying the wreckage.

St Helens: Prescott; Hayes, Gibbs (Norhey, 57), Loughlin, Sullivan; Hammond, Goulding (Waring, 72); Fogerty (Morley, 60), Cunningham, Dwyer, Pickavance, Matautia (Haigh, 69), Joynt.

Halifax: Umaga; Bentley (Highton, 20), Schuster (Slicke, 66), Amone, Tuilaigi, Anderson, Parker (Briggs, 52), Harrison, Rowley, Jackson, Gillespie, Perrett, Baldwin (Ketteridge, h-t).

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).

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