James Roby's return helps St Helens find the edge to fillet Bradford Bulls

St Helens 30 Bradford Bulls 18

Langtree Park

St Helens climbed above Bradford, so often their rivals in the summer rugby era, to go eighth in the Super League table on Sunday as Langtree Park welcomed back two individuals who could be crucial over the rest of the campaign.

The Saints and the Bulls were unarguably the two dominant sides of the first decade of Super League, but there might not be room for both of them in the play-offs this year. Of the two teams, the omens look more propitious for the Saints.

One player does not make a team, but the return of two key men has rejuvenated St Helens to the extent that they look much more like their old selves. James Roby, making his first start at hooker on his return from injury, instantly injected the speed at the play-the-ball that St Helens have been so badly lacking, although Bradford should have prevented Willie Manu from wrestling his way over when he took his short pass from dummy-half after 10 minutes.

Jonny Lomax, playing in his first match for three months having recovered from a hamstring injury, took a little longer to make an impact, but he was instrumental in setting up Tommy Makinson for Saints' second try seven minutes later.

Given their financial constraints, the Bulls have probably overachieved already this season and they showed commendable resilience in this game. They did not stage an attack until the half-hour, but when they did, Adam Sidlow sent Brett Kearney over for a try that made the scoreline look deceptively close for such a one-sided half.

The score offered a fairer reflection of the balance of play when Sia Soliola took Jon Wilkin's pass and battered his way over in typically determined fashion five minutes before the break.

When Danny Addy's pass to Sidlow went to ground early in the second half and Josh Jones picked up to go 60 metres forward, it looked as though Saints too might run away with the contest. But credit is due to the Bulls for their grit and determination. Even without their best attacking player, Jarrod Sammut, they fashioned two further tries.

First Matty Blythe wrestled his way over the line and then Elliot Kear launched himself spectacularly to catch and touch down Luke Gale's cross-field kick.

With Roby back in the side, however, Saints have another gear they can slip into when required, and they did just that as his lightning-fast pass to Wilkin created the try that removed all doubt.

Saints still have some way to go to be the dominant force they were not too long ago, but with plenty of youthful potential and the right men in key positions, they can be highly competitive for the rest of this season. And, if they do make the play-offs, they would represent tricky opponents for anyone. For Bradford, the top eight would be a bonus, but they do not look ready to give up hope of it just yet.

St Helens Wellens; Makinson, Turner, Jones, Meli; Lomax, O'Brien; Puletua, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Manu, Wilkin. Substitutes used Walmsley, Hand, Clough, Howarth.

Bradford Kearney; Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Platt; Addy, GaLe; Scruton, L'Estrange, Langley, Bateman, Olbison, Donaldson. Substitutes used Diskin, Evans, Roberts, Sidlow.

Referee T Alibert.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Hughes is hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott
cricketStephen Brenkley on batsman's tragic flaw that led to critical injury
Sport
Dejected England players applaud the fans following their team's 3-0 defeat
football

News
people

Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband

Life and Style
Stefan Gates with some mince flies
food + drink
Sport
Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho clash on the touchline
football
Arts and Entertainment
Rooney Mara plays a white Tiger Lily in forthcoming film Pan
filmFirst look at Rooney Mara in Pan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital