Wily Wellens carries Saints to victory on 400th appearance
St Helens 19 Huddersfield 6
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.
Saturday 13 August 2011
St Helens captain Paul Wellens marked the start of his fourth century of appearances with a typical all-round display in a victory that consolidated third place in Super League.
"He puts his head where a lot of people won't," said the Saints coach Royce Simmons of his skipper. "He just hates getting beaten and that's the sort of character you need around the place."
The full-back's defensive expertise frustrated the Giants for much of the game last night and he also scored the crucial try as Saints put a three-point gap between themselves and fourth-placed Huddersfield.
The first half was an attritional affair, during which neither attack was cute enough to break down two hard-working and well-organised defences.
The exception to that was a passage of play just after the midway point, where both teams could have scored, but only Saints did. A flash of vintage from Leon Pryce broke the deadlock when he took a pass from Lee Gaskell, sold a dummy and stepped through the gap he had created for a try which James Foster converted.
Saints got their second try when, two minutes after the break, Lee Gilmour squandered possession for Wellens – playing his 400th game for Saints – to take Pryce's pass and celebrate his milestone by forcing his way between two defenders on the line.
Huddersfield lost Luke O'Donnell with a nasty knee-ligament injury, something that further hampered their attempts to get back on terms.
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, himself in need of treatment after a thunderous coming-together with Eorl Crabtree, demonstrated his complete recovery with the sort of long-range try prop forwards love to score and Saints were within sight of victory.
It took a miracle try to get the Giants on the scoreboard, Kevin Brown clawing Danny Brough's kick back from the dead-ball line for David Fa'alogo to touch down. Gaskell's late drop goal, however, settled the game in Saints' favour.
St Helens: Wellens; Armstrong, Shenton, Meli, Foster; Pryce, Gaskell; Graham, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Dixon. Substitutes used Moore, Clough, Wheeler, Ashurst.
Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Horne, Lawrence, Cudjoe; Brown, Brough; Griffin, Robinson, O'Donnell, Kirmond, Gilmour, Faiumu. Substitutes used Crabtree, Fa'alogo, Raleigh, Patrick.
Referee: P Bentham (Warrington).
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