Wellens sets Saints on the road to recovery

Huddersfield 8 St Helens 50
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The Independent Online

Paul Wellens got St Helens moving in the right direction at the McAlpine Stadium last night, setting up their first two tries and scoring the third as they wore down the Giants.

Paul Wellens got St Helens moving in the right direction at the McAlpine Stadium last night, setting up their first two tries and scoring the third as they wore down the Giants.

With last week's defeat at Wakefield still to digest, Saints needed to get off to a good start in another potentially tricky fixture, but it was the Giants who drew first blood.

Saints' problems started with Lee Gilmour's knock-on in front of his own posts and continued with Eorl Crabtree's fast, flat pass to fellow prop Jim Gannon, who twisted over the line.

Huddersfield were fierce in the tackle and enterprising with the ball and they were further rewarded when Paul White, who had already kicked the conversion, added a penalty after Nick Fozzard went high in a tackle on Crabtree. Saints did not begin to look the part until James Roby and Paul Wellens opened up play down the left for John Stankevitch to go over, with Paul Sculthorpe adding the conversion plus an equalising penalty soon after.

Saints looked as though they might have weathered the early storm, but Huddersfield are not camped in the top six by accident and they exerted the sort of pressure that could have brought further scores if Stanley Gene's kicking game had been in better fettle.

Maurie Fa'asavalu, beginning to look a more than handy acquisition in the Saints pack, lifted the siege with a storming run up field. After White failed to find touch with what should have been the relieving penalty, Saints at last took the lead with Wellens' pass around the corner for Darren Albert with Sculthorpe converting.

Saints were a long way from their best in the first half, but their second-half performance was more than good enough to take them back to second place in Super League.

Less than two minutes into the second-half, Saints tightened their grip with Wellens going over from Gilmour's tap, closely followed by Gilmour himself finding a gap wide out on the right. The continuing reliability of Sculthorpe's boot made their lead all the more commanding.

The highly promising young Roby sent Sculthorpe through the middle for another try and Saints were cruising. Jon Wilkin, who again did well in a variety of forward roles, scored from his own kick and Ade Gardner took advantage of Dom Feaunati's clever pass. Feaunati then rounded off the scoring with a try of his own.

Huddersfield: Reilly, O'Hare, Nero, Evans, Donlan, Gene, Penkywicz, Gannon, White, Crabtree, Jones, Smith, Roarty. Substitutes used: Morrison, Grayshon, Joseph, St Hilaire.

St Helens: Wellens, Albert, Talau, Gilmour, Gardner, Sculthorpe, Hooper, Fozzard, Roby, Edmondson, Stankevitch, Bennett, Wilkin. Substitutes used: Bibey, Fa'asavalu, Feaunati, Mason.

Referee: Ian Smith (Oldham).

* Mark Gasnier, who has been targeted as a future signing by Wigan, scored two tries as New South Wales beat Queensland 36-14 in Sydney to clinch the State of Origin series.

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