Rugby League: Goulding is good value

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The Independent Online
St Helens. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25

Leeds. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18

A GLORIOUS autumn afternoon on the best playing surface in the league and two sides renowned for attack rather than defence, but all that is wrong with the British game was on display here yesterday, writes Dave Hadfield.

It was by no means a dull match. In fact, it had periods of high excitement and was not settled until its outstanding figure, Bobby Goulding, put over a drop goal five minutes from time.

But the slapdash quality of the proceedings between two of Britain's leading clubs went a long way to explaining why Australia seem to be streets ahead once more.

Saints are always delighted to beat Leeds, but they should have had this match sewn up by half-time. They had the best possible start when Goulding's kick caught Leeds cold for Alan Hunte to score his 14th try of the season and they added others before the interval from Anthony Sullivan and Paul Loughlin.

Goulding was showing exactly why Britain must include him when they name their squad today, but Saints as a team were responding only sporadically. Their vulnerability in defence also allowed Leeds two tries, through Kevin Iro and Patrick Entat, to keep them in contention.

The power of George Mann, who had a strong game against his old club, helped Leeds get back to within two points after the break when he linked with Garry Schofield to send in Jim Fallon.

But Saints, after wasting a couple more opportunities, drew away again when a suspiciously forward pass from Loughlin gave Sullivan his second try.

Alan Tait, another bidding for Test recognition, found Saints out of position for Fallon to score again, but two kicks from the irrepressible Goulding then saw them safely home.

A penalty after Gary Mercer had gone high on Shane Cooper gave Saints a degree of comfort and the drop-goal clinched a match which, if it had little in common with the way the game is played by the brand leaders, was richly entertaining in its random way. File under enjoyable rubbish.

St Helens: Prescott; Hunte, Gibbs, Loughlin, Sullivan; Griffiths, Goulding; Neill, Veivers, Fogerty (Pickavance, 68), Joynt, Pickavance (Perelini, 47), Cooper. Substitute not used: Casey.

Leeds: Tait; Fallon, Iro (Holroyd, 20), Cummins, Cook; Schofield, Entat; Harmon, Lowes, Faimalo, Mann, Eyres (Howard, 26), Mercer.

Referee: J Holdsworth (Kippax).