Record-breaking Saints power past Bulls

Bradford 18 St Helens 44
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The Independent Online

St Helens established a Super League record of 16 away wins in a row, largely thanks to a 15-minute blitz fuelled by their awesome firepower from the bench.

The league leaders were trailing 14-4 when James Roby came into the game, closely followed by Maurie Fa'asavalu and Tony Puletua, triggering a burst of four converted tries that effectively won the game. "They were pretty immense for them," said the Bradford coach, Steve McNamara. "For 25 minutes, I thought we were very good, but they had two purple patches where they punished every mistake."

Saints scored first with a soft Francis Meli try after Sam Burgess had been taken into touch in the first tackle of the game, but then lost their way.

Glenn Morrison scored a converted try from Paul Deacon's reverse pass to put the Bulls in the lead and Steve Menzies scooped up a loose ball to send Rikki Sheriffe away for a second try.

The Bulls might have been better served by going for a third, rather than settling for two points from a penalty on their next attack. All the same, 10 points looked a handy lead until the reinforcements came riding over the hill.

Roby spotted a gap from dummy half to get Saints moving again and then Jon Wilkin touched down from Chris Flannery's shrewd kick. Roby then sent Flannery over with a precision pass and, after Menzies had been carted into touch, Kyle Eastmond, standing in for the injured Sean Long, got the killer try when Saints kept the ball alive on the last tackle of the half.

The third quarter was a mess, but the contest sparked into life again on the hour. At first, it seemed to have done so in Bradford's favour when Semi Tadulala went over, but that only provoked another Saints onslaught.

Leon Pryce pounced on a loose ball to set up the first of three ties in the last seven minutes, scored by the powerful Fa'asavalu. "I wouldn't want to stand in front of him when he runs at you like that," said Saints' coach Mick Potter, and Bradford's defenders seemed to feel very the same way about Puletua when he rumbled through a couple of minutes later.

Meli rounded off the scoring, leaving the Bulls to reflect that when the Saints come to your backyard, it takes something special to stop them adding to their away sequence.

Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Menzies, Nero, Tadulala; Jeffries, Deacon; Lynch, Newton, Scruton, Burgess, Morrison, Langley.

Substitutes used: Worrincy, Rinaldi, Whitehead, Kopczak.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Gidley, Dean, Meli; Pryce, Eastmond; Hargreaves, Cunningham, Graham, Wilkin, Flannery, Gilmour. Substitutes used: Clough, Roby, Fa'asavalu, Puletua.

Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).

*The New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney has said he rejected an approach from Wigan to stay with the Kiwis. Wigan coach Brian Noble's contract expires at the end of this season.