Saints gaining momentum after cutting down Giants

Huddersfield 6 St Helens 24
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The Independent Online

The old guard may have plenty to say yet about this year's Super League, judging by the way St Helens, even with a number of players missing, proved too good for one of the more credible pretenders.

Saints went above Huddersfield and into third place, steadied by two first-half tries from Francis Meli. After that, they simply had a little too much know-how for the Giants, for whom the mid-season signing, Danny Brough, made a losing debut off the bench. A mouth-watering Good Friday derby against leaders Wigan now beckons.

Saints solved their full-back problem by playing Leon Pryce there, although Kyle Eastmond was listed for the job on the team-sheet. "Leon was keen to have a go and help the team out and I thought he was outstanding today," said his coach, Mick Potter.

Whatever their precise roles – and there was a certain amount of mixing and matching during the game – the two players figured prominently in the opening try, moving the ball swiftly to the left flank for Gary Wheeler to supply the scoring pass to Meli.

The second owed everything to a stunning break by that phenomenal athlete of a prop forward, James Graham. He scattered defenders down the left flank before finding Wheeler outside him and Meli in support to touch down again.

Sluggish and far too prone to conceding soft penalties, the Giants simply could not get going. There were signs of a possible turning of the tide at the start of the second half, when Scott Grix did well to take Kevin Brown's pass and get the Giants on the scoreboard. But there were no signs of panic from Saints. Eastmond edged them further ahead with a penalty before Graham forced his way over.

Scorers: Huddersfield: Try Grix; Goal Hodgson; St Helens: Tries Meli 2, Graham, Eastmond; Goals Eastmond 4.

Huddersfield: B Hodgson; J Lolesi, S Wild, P Whatuira, D Hodgson; K Brown, L Robinson; D Griffin (E Crabtree, 22), S Lunt (S Grix, 31), A Raleigh, L Gilmour, L Patrick (M Aspinwall, 28), D Faiumu (D Brough, 24).

St Helens: L Pryce; A Gardner, M Gidley, G Wheeler, F Meli; K Eastmond, S Moore; J Graham (M Fa'asavalu, 40), K Cunningham (J Roby 26), T Puletua (B Hargreaves, 21), C Flannery, P Clough (A Fixon, 23), J Wilkin.

Referee: T Alibert (France).