Albert fast-tracks Saints to victory

London 20 - St Helens 30
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The Independent Online

St Helens overcame the absence of key players to show a little too much ability for the inconsistent Broncos at Griffin Park. With players such as Jon Wilkin and Mickey Higham coming to the fore, Ian Millward's men did just enough to keep their noses in front after taking advantage of London's mistakes to take a half-time lead.

Saints were missing Sean Long, Paul Sculthorpe and Jamie Lyon, but they moved the ball swiftly on their first attack for James Roby to score in the corner from Willie Talau's pass.

The Broncos wasted two good early positions when Francis Stephenson knocked on and when Thomas Leuluai threw a wild pass. Jason Hooper, who had earlier landed a conversion, then extended Saints' lead with a penalty.

London looked like they had had their early-season confidence knocked out of them in their heavy defeat at Leeds last weekend. They began to rebuild their faith in themselves after 28 minutes, however, when Lee Hopkins broke from the scrum base. At the end of that set Mark McLinden threw a miss-out pass for Nick Bradley-Qalilawa to squeeze in at the corner.

Three minutes later McLinden threw a long, looping pass and Bradley-Qalilawa managed to touch down again.

Paul Sykes missed both conversions, but the Broncos were level until they invited Saints back into the game before half-time.

Darren Albert took a pass near his own line from Paul Wellens, went through Luke Dorn's tackle and raced 80 metres with the sort of pace befitting the fastest man in Super League.

Bradley-Qalilawa almost made it a hat-trick at the start of the second half, but Saints were the side to score when Albert made the initial break and Mark Edmondson finished it off.

The Broncos had plenty of pressure after that and finally found a way over when Leuluai ran through to touch down Dorn's kick.

Solomon Haumono spoiled that progress by knocking on and Saints eventually took advantage when Keiron Cunningham got the ball out for Vinnie Anderson to score.

London were back with a chance when Sykes and Hopkins set up Dorn to score, but Saints always seemed to have a bit too much quality in reserve and clinched matters when Mike Bennett went over with five minutes to play.

London: Luisi; Bradley-Qalilawa, Sykes, O'Halloran, Greenwood; Dorn, Leuluai; Stephenson, McLinden, Tookey, Haumono, Hopkins, Lolohea. Substitutes used: Trindall, Purdham, Williams, Highton.

St Helens: Wellens; Roby, Hooper, Talau, Albert; V Anderson, Higham; Fozzard, Cunningham, P Anderson, Gilmour, Bennett, Wilkin. Substitutes used: Edmondson, Mason, Fa'asavalu, Moore.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).