Rugby League: Saints fail to handle kicking

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Warrington . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31

St Helens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

SO EARLY in the season it is all turning sour for St Helens, thrashed last night by a Warrington side which identified and probed their weaknessess mercilessly.

After their opening-day humiliation by Doncaster, Saints could hardly have made a worse start to their second game of the season. Within six minutes they had lost their captain, Shane Cooper, after a sickening collision with one of the craggier areas of Bruce McGuire's anatomy, and had gifted Warrington their opening try. Cooper was kept in hospital overnight with severe concussion.

Greg Mackey's kick to the corner saw Mark Forster score in acres of space and a similar routine after 10 minutes of dominance saw Jonathan Davies' boot create the second for Allan Bateman after Paul Loughlin had dropped the ball.

Davies converted the second try and added a drop goal as Warrington continued to punish the disorganised Saints.

Warrington pushed them deeper into the mire, another precise kick from Mackie opening up the same suspect flank for Forster to dive, catch and score spectacularly.

Incredibly, yet another kick to the same wing, this time from Davies, gave Forster his hat-trick before half-time.

Saints' nightmare continued whenever Warrington put boot to ball. Anthony Sullivan knocked-on Davies's kick and quick passing from the scrum saw Bateman send in Lee Penny.

Saints, for whom Scott Gibbs was one of the few to emerge with any credit, gained some consolation when Sonny Nickle was awarded a penalty try. But Davies's fifth goal and a try- saving tackle by Penny on Sullivan kept them firmly in their place.

Loughlin grabbed a second Saints try from Goulding's high kick but the boot had already been put into their early season long before that.

Warrington: Penny; Forster, Bateman, Davies (Bennett, 68), Harris; Ellis, Mackey; Chambers (Hilton, 29), Thursfield, McGuire (Chambers, 61), Cullen, Sanderson, Elliott (McGuire, 72).

St Helens: Prescott; Hunte, Gibbs, Loughlin, Sullivan; Cooper (Booth, 5), Goulding; Neill, Cunningham, Fogerty, Pickavance (Casey, 45), Nickle, Joynt.

Referee: J Connolly (Wigan).