Rugby League: Goulding does his level best

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The Independent Online
St Helens 22 London Broncos 22

A home draw against London cost Wigan the Super League last year and St Helens might look back on this at the end of the season as a result that does them similar damage.

Saints, who could to afford to lose another game if they are to retain their title, would not even have got a point from this game had it not been for a wonderful run from their young substitute, Paul Anderson, that set up the tying try and goal for Bobbie Goulding seven minutes from time.

In the early trial of strength between the forwards, it was the Broncos who built up the momentum with a charge by Russell Bawden drawing a penalty for a high tackle that allowed Greg Barwick to put them ahead. London kept the pressure on Saints and it was not long before it paid off again, a lucky bounce from Robbie Beazley's grubber kick letting Tony Mestrov dive through a gap to touch down, Barwick adding the goal.

Saints gained a brief respite with a Bobbie Goulding penalty, but they then conceded another try - one of infuriating simplicity. Steve Prescott uncharacteristically spilled a high kick from Shaun Edwards and, from the scrum base, Peter Gill cruised in unopposed.

Saints needed something special by way of response and they got it when Derek McVey and Karle Hammond set up Paul Newlove for their first try. Goulding missed the conversion but added two penalties to put Saints closer in touch than they deserved to be, despite Barwick's penalty for the Broncos before half-time.

Barwick's early penalty put Saints further behind in the second half, but some typical St Helens improvisation, started and finished by Hammond, gave them the boost they needed.

It was now their turn to dominate the game, testing London's resilience. It remained intact until Martin Offiah's first opportunity to run produced a try out of nothing. Taking Barwick's pass, Offiah showed a glimpse of his old pace down the touchline and scored in the corner.

Both sides had tries disallowed before Anderson's touch of class, but St Helens' relief was limited by the knowledge that Newlove is expected to be out for several weeks after tearing a hamstring last night.

St Helens: Prescott; Arnold, Haigh, Newlove, Sullivan; Hammond, Goulding; Perelini, Cunningham, O'Neill, McVey, Pickavance, Northey. Substitutes used: Busby, Matautia, Anderson. Substitute not used: O'Loughlin.

London Broncos: Mardon; Martin, Barwick, Krause, Offiah; Collett, Edwards; Mescrov, Beazley, Dunford, Rosolen, Bawden, Gill. Substitutes used: Salter, Seaby, Roskell. Substitute not used: Duncan.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).