Wolves kept at bay as Long slots late winner for Saints

St Helens - 31 Warrington - 30
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The Independent Online

Warrington have still not won at Knowsley Road in the Super League era, but they will never go closer than this.

Warrington have still not won at Knowsley Road in the Super League era, but they will never go closer than this.

Two minutes from time in a riveting game, the Wolves were deservedly clinging to a two point lead but Chris Bridge kicked away possession and Brent Grose was penalised for administering a facial in a tackle on Jamie Lyon.

Sean Long put over the penalty and then, with 26 seconds left on the clock, slotted over the winning drop goal. Even by Saints' Houdini-like standards, it was a wonderful, breathtaking escape.

For Long, who has been involved in getting them out of jail so often in the past, this was a milestone, his decisive drop goal giving him the 15 points he needed to become the third highest points scorer in Saints' history.

His coach, Ian Millward, admitted that he had been considering taking him off after a mixed performance that betrayed a few signs of tiredness and included some questionable tactical decisions.

"But I know what he's like,'' he said. "I knew something had to turn his way.''

For Warrington's Paul Cullen, it was a second case this season of the match turning against his side in the final moments as Saints grabbed their customary late victory - although one far removed from the many thrashings they have administered to their neighbours over the last decade.

Cullen refused to be downhearted: "We played our part in a classic and we will get St Helens - there's no doubt about it,'' he said. "They've had nine years of success and we've had nine years of mediocrity and failure, but we've made a statement tonight.''

Cullen also refused to complain about the crucial penalty, awarded on the intervention of a touch-judge but defeat was rough justice for his side.

Saints had gone into an early lead through Long, but Warrington hit back through Toa Kohe-Love before a brilliant back-handed pass from Lyon set up Darren Albert. Tries from Nathan Wood and Ben Westwood gave Warrington the lead, but Lyon hit them with a swift double before half-time to give Saints the advantage.

The two sides traded the lead again in the second half before Wood seemed to have scored the winner for Warrington as he juggled the ball and plunged over. But Warrington know better than most sides that Saints are not dead until the final hooter sounded and Long was the man to remind them of that hard fact in the dramatic final two minutes.

St Helens: Wellens; Albert, Lyon, Gilmour, Gardner; Hooper, Long; Bennett, Cunningham, Fozzard, V Anderson, Wilkin, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: P Anderson, Edmondson, Mason, Hitham.

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe'love, Appo; Briers, N Wood; Leikvoll, Clarke, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Westwood. Substitutes used: Mark Gleeson, Lima, P Wood, Bridge.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).

* A late drop goal by scrum-half Dennis Moran clinched a 23-22 win for Wigan over lowly Widnes at the JJB Stadium last night. Kevin Brown, the returning Brian Carney and Stephen Wild went over in the opening period for Wigan, with Danny Tickle adding another after the break. The Vikingsmanaged four-pointers through Daniel Frame, Shane Millard, Richie Barnett and Gray Viane.

* The scrum-half Rob Burrow grabbed his first hat-trick for Leeds as the Rhinos defeated Huddersfield 44-14 at home last night.