Wellens inspires Saints' revival to gather speed
Warrington 16 St Helens 28
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.
The Halliwell Jones Stadium
Saturday 31 March 2012
It is now two matches and two massive scalps for the Mike Rush-Keiron Cunningham coaching regime. Saints followed up last week's demolition of Leeds with an almost equally emphatic win over the Super League leaders last night.
After striving in vain for so long for a win over their neighbours, Warrington can now claim to be the logical favourites when they meet. This, however, was a match that transported them back to the bad old days.They were swept aside with three early tries, as Saints moved the ball with real confidence, and failed to recover.
Saints began with all the urgency they showed against the Rhinos last week and were soon forcing the same sort of errors from another top team. The first 15 minutes were a master-class from their captain, Paul Wellens, who provided the final pass to set up Ade Gardner for the first try and scored the next two himself.
If he was on top of his game, then so was Jonny Lomax at scrum-half, who completed a glorious handling move with the scoring pass to Wellens. He was involved again, linking up with Lance Hohaia in a typically sweeping attack for the full-back's second.
The Wolves would have been in even worse trouble if Sia Soliola had been able to ground the ball properly. As it was, they could not keep their line intact for long before Lomax' brilliant low, one handed pass paved the way for Francis Meli. Rush and Cunningham might be a new and temporary partnership, but this was vintage St Helens.
Warrington at last managed to get on the scoreboard, with Brett Hodgson's try from Lee Briers' pass, but even then they almost squandered their progress when Garreth Carvell surrendered the ball near his own line in another show of their fallibility.
Saints had an early chance after the break to make the points safe, but Michael Shenton knocked on from James Roby's break; there was a hint that they may regret that when Joel Monaghan went over in the corner.
The Wolves needed to capitalise on that quickly, but were too ragged to do so. They were sunk when Soliola plunged over with 12 minutes to play. A last-minute effort from Ryan Atkins was scant consolation.
Warrington: Hodgson; Riley, Blythe, Atkins, J.Monaghan; Briers, Myler; Morley, M.Monaghan, Wood, Waterhouse, Grix, Cooper. Substitutes used: Carvell, Higham, Bridge, Hill.
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Shenton, Jones, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Soliola, Flannery, Wilkin.
Substitutes used: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Clough, Flanagan, Magennis.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).
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