St Helens 42 Bradford 18: Long lauds 'best ever' Saints as Bulls crash

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Sean Long called this the best Saints team he has played in, but it would take a sterner test than this to even begin to prove that contention. These two rivals have produced some Challenge Cup classics but this was not one of them, not just because Saints were far too good.

"Every aspect of our game was poor,'' said a visibly angry Steve McNamara, who has three defeats in his first five games as Bradford's head coach. He dragged his team in for extra training and video analysis yesterday. Brian Smith, the former Bradford coach, arrives tomorrow on a short-term consultancy. On this evidence, the team need a good deal of help.

It was their misfortune to catch Saints on such good form. Long's kicking was inspired and Kieran Cunningham and Paul Sculthorpe were in rampaging form in the pack. "This is the best St Helens team I've played in and that's a big statement,'' Long said. "We've got strength in depth, great skill and the pack to take us forward.''

Long had an interception try from Terry Newton's pass disallowed for offside but that, as Bradford's video will have shown, was the only thing that did not go Saints' way.

St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Lyon, Talau, Meli; L Pryce, Long; Cayleff, Cunningham, P Anderson, Sculthorpe, Gilmour, Hooper. Substitutes used: V Anderson, Wilkin, Graham, Fozzard.

Bradford: Withers; Johnson, B Harris, Hape, Vainikolo; I Harris, Deacon; Fielden, Newton, Lynch, Myers, Ferres, Langley. Substitutes used: K Pryce, Gene, Henderson, Vagana.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).