Huddersfield 16 St Helens 18: Saints work hard to stay unbeaten

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Saints moved back to the top of Super League with another grinding performance. Heaven help the rest when they start to play the rugby with which they are usually associated.

Their coach, Daniel Anderson, admits that they are well short of their best as an attacking force, but they withstood a determined Huddersfield effort to record their fifth win in five games and stay ahead of Bradford. It is not the St Helens way, but it is working.

"Once again, our defence kept us in the game," Anderson said. "We're not attacking very well and teams are really up for us and making it a hard battle."

This was a battle that could have been lost, but for an obvious turning point in the 62nd minute. Huddersfield were attacking on the last tackle when their former Australian Test centre, Michael De Vere, knocked on. Saints took the ball to the other end through Willie Talau and Francis Meli and eventually scored with Maurie Fa'asavalu's close-range drive.

"That incident had a big impact and summed the whole game up," said the Giants' coach, Jon Sharp, who argued that the only difference between the sides was that Saints took their chances.

Huddersfield still set up a tremendous finish when Brad Drew and Paul March set up Stephen Wild, after Matty Smith had missed a kick to touch on his debut in place of the injured Sean Long. But they could not find a decisive blow.

They lived to regret the way they had started the game, with Stuart Jones fumbling from the kick-off and Ade Gardner scoring after only 45 seconds.

Saints scored again towards the end of the first half when Leon Pryce strode through a gap to provide a try for Jamie Lyon, but Huddersfield kept in touch with three penalties kicked by Chris Thorman.

The home side looked to have the momentum to win when they closed to within two points just before the hour. Thorman kicked to the wing and when Meli allowed the ball to bounce, Drew was there to touch down. Thorman missed the angled conversion and that was the margin by which the Giants fell short.

"It's a strange feeling in the dressing-room," Sharp said. "The boys are disappointed not to have come away with anything."

Huddersfield: Reilly; Aspinwall, De Vere, Torrens, M Gardner; Thorman, Paul; Crabtree, Drew, Snitch, Nero, Jones, Wild. Substitutes used: March, P Smith, McDonald, Raleigh.

St Helens: Wellens; A Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli; Pryce, Moore; Cayless, Cunningham, P Anderson, Gilmour, Sculthorpe, Hooper. Substitutes used: Wilkin, M Smith, V Anderson, Fa'asavalu.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

* The Castleford coach Terry Matterson, who spent more than three years with the London Broncos, made a winning return to the capital as his side overturned an early 14-point deficit to move above Harlequins at the bottom of the table with a 34-20 victory.