Rugby League: Pragmatic Saints take a grip in the wet

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The Independent Online
Huddersfield Giants 0 St Helens 11

SAINTS KEPT their unbeaten record afloat with points dredged up early and late in a game played in quite ridiculous conditions. Torrential rain produced a pitch more suitable for growing rice than playing rugby, but both sides did astonishingly well to achieve anything recognisable as a game.

Although it was Huddersfield who had most of the action, Saints' flashes of opportunism gave them their ninth Super League victory.

Saints took a fortunate early lead in a first half that Huddersfield dominated territorially. It came after three minutes when Anthony Stewart had the ball knocked from his hands only to see it squirt conveniently into the arms of Fereti Tuilagi, who squeezed in at the corner.

Huddersfield had three opportunities to wipe out that lead, all from kicks through their former St Helens scrum-half, Bobbie Goulding, but just failed on each occasion, while Goulding also missed what in other conditions would have been a simple penalty.

The pitch was virtually underwater by the start of the second half, making try-scoring chances even harder to find. Jim Lenihan went close for Huddersfield, who also thought they could have been awarded penalties when first Goulding and then Nigel Wright claimed to have been obstructed.

Saints' hard-working defence held firm, however, and 13 minutes from the end Scott Barrow, such an impressive deputy for Tommy Martyn recently, found a narrow isthmus of dry land and dummied his way through to release Chris Joynt with an inside pass, Sean Long adding the goal for a 10-point lead. Long also achieved the improbable, launching a successful drop goal from the sodden surface.

It had been a hard-earned win with an extra price to be paid in the loss of Anthony Sullivan, who dislocated a shoulder.

Huddersfield Giants: Reilly; Bentley, Lenihan, Cheetham, Arnold; Weston, Goulding; Fozzard, Russell, Neill, Boughton, Richards, Wright. Substitutes used: Hudson, Pickavance, King, Cook.

St Helens: Atcheson; Tuilagi, Stewart, Newlove, Sullivan; Barrow, Long; O'Neill, Cunningham, Nickle, Perelini, Joynt, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Smith, Wellens, Jonkers, Edmundson.

Referee: S Presley (Castleford).

Leeds shook off their Wembley hangover with three tries in six minutes to seal a 22-8 win over Wakefield at Headingley last night. Wakefield had briefly led through a Vince Fawcett try, but Brad Godden, Ryan Sheridan and Francis Cummins all crossed over to secure the points for the Rhinos.