Match Report: Jonny Lomax sizzles at seven and leads rout of Bradford Bulls
Bradford Bulls 10 St Helens 36
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Sunday 24 February 2013
Jonny Lomax found a new position and a new way of tormenting the Bulls as Saints produced their best performance of the season so far yesterday.
The regular scrum-half was moved to full-back because of Paul Wellens's calf injury and adapted instantly with a sparkling hat-trick of tries.
His coach, Nathan Brown, was reluctant to take too much credit for the tactical switch.
"He certainly played well," he said. "But all your best full-backs these days started as half-backs, so it wasn't a genius move."
Brown also gave the clearest of hints that Lomax will continue to be regarded primarily as a specialist No 7. "When Paul Wellens is fit, he'll play," he said.
Saints had only one unimpressive win to their credit before yesterday, but they were sharp from the first minute at Odsal. With only three minutes on the clock Lomax scored his first from a long, cross-field run that should have seen him tackled.
Winter signing Willie Manu then claimed his first try for the club with a surging run that took him through and around a series of attempted tackles.
The forward Anthony Laffranchi went over from close range, before some brilliant footwork from Lomax put him in for his second.
Bradford were shell-shocked and, even when they managed to mount an attack worthy of the name, Matty Blythe somehow contrived to throw the ball away on the line. His "what have I done?" look said it all about the Bulls' first‑half effort, but there was still time for it to get worse.
Four minutes before the break Tony Puletua was too strong for four half-hearted tacklers and wrestled his way over for the most embarrassing try of the lot.
Bradford tightened up their leaky defence after half-time and were rewarded with a try from Brett Kearney, his Super League‑leading sixth of the season.
Lomax completed his hat-trick, however, from a clever inside pass by Francis Meli, and Ade Gardner went over on the other wing before an injury time consolation from Elliot Kear.
Bulls fans were furious at the number of decisions from the referee, Tim Roby, that went against them, but their coach, Francis Cummins, insisted: "We can't use that as an excuse. We have to be good enough to deal with it."
It was a bitterly disappointing display by the Bulls after two encouraging wins under their new regime, but a reminder that, whoever is paying the wages, fundamentals like making your tackles have to be attended to.
Bradford Kearney; Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Foster; Addy, Sammut; Scruton, Diskin, Sidlow, Olbison, Whitehead, C Walker. Substitutes used L'Estrange, Donaldson, Langley, Manuokafoa.
St Helens Lomax; Gardner, Turner, Jones, Meli; Wheeler, Wilkin; Puletua, Roby, Laffranchi, Manu, Soliola, Flanagan. Substitutes used McCarthy-Scarsbrook, A Walker, Greenwood, Walmsley.
Referee Tim Roby.
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