Rugby League: Joynt keeps Saints in form

St Helens 50 Sheffield Eagles 0
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ST HELENS tuned up for the new rhythms of the play-off series, ending their League programme with an impressive display in what amounted to a rigorous training session.

Sheffield's season was effectively over weeks ago - on the way home from Wembley, some would say - and they only provided just enough resistance to make Saints play some spectacular rugby for their tries.

No one did so in more eye-catching style that Chris Joynt, in his first game back after a hernia operation and showing his potential value to both Saints and Great Britain this autumn.

Joynt scored two tries, one a magnificent solo effort from 60 yards, and provided the ball for two more from Anthony Sullivan as Saints ran away with it in the second half at Knowsley Road.

By that time, Joynt had already contributed to Saints taking a firm grip on the game. Karle Hammond's pass to Paul Davidson had laid on their first try and then Paul Newlove scored the first of his two after Sullivan had knocked down Sean Long's high kick.

Whetu Taewa's wonderful cover tackle on Damien Smith prevented an immediate try after Sullivan had split the Sheffield defence, but Saints still scored through Long and Newlove took Paul Anderson's pass for their fourth try before half-time.

Sheffield held back the tide for 13 minutes of the second half before Joynt's superb run and dummy for his first try. It was his pick-up and quick pass to Sullivan that set the Cardiff-bound winger on his way to his hat-trick.

Joynt also provided the pass for Sullivan's second, went over himself from close range, and then watched admiringly with the rest of us as young Paul Wellens released Sullivan for his third.

Bradford will obviously be a very different proposition next Friday, but as a last run-out before the serious business this could hardly be bettered.

St Helens: Atcheson; C Smith, D Smith, Newlove, Sullivan; Hammond, Long; Pickavance, Cunningham, Matautia, Joynt, Davidson, Anderson. Substitutes used: Perelini, Sculthorpe, Stewart, Wellens.

Sheffield Eagles: Watson; Sovatabua, Senior, Taewa, Sodje; Vassilakopoulos, Aston; Broadbent, Lawless, Laughton, Turner, Shaw, Wood. Substitutes used: Wilkes, Law, Molloy, Doyle.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).