Rugby League: Saints laid low by rampant Lowes

St Helens 30 Bradford Bulls 38
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The Independent Online
There was a symbolic changing of the guard at Knowsley Road last night, as last year's Stones Super League champions proved no match for the side that will succeed them.

Saints enjoyed the highs last season; yesterday, they experienced the Lowes, as James of that ilk scored two vital tries and contributed to another three to help Bradford show that they will be worthy inheritors of the title.

Lowes struck first after only three minutes, spotting a gap from close range, but Saints responded well when Sean Long backed up Andy Haigh's break for an equalising try.

Saints even thought they had gone ahead when Anthony Sullivan intercepted from Lowes to travel 80 yards and touch down, only to look back and see the try disallowed for offside at the previous play-the-ball.

Every time a decision went against Saints, Bradford seemed to cash in, and it was their ability to keep the ball alive with relentless close support that saw Andy Hodgson go over to put them back in front.

Haigh was away himself soon after that score, but he was hauled back for a knock-on. With an air of inevitability, Lowes, Steve McNamara and Graeme Bradley opened Saints up again for Matt Calland to score.

Karle Hammond's pass and the 16-year-old Scott Barrow's break brought Danny Arnold a St Helens try, but Alan Hunte's knock-on -hotly disputed by the perpetrator - gave Bradford possession immediately before half- time.

The predatory Lowes this time sensed a way through from 20 yards out and Bradford were in the clear.

Calland scored his second early in the second half, before Lowes' break sent in Danny Peacock and McNamara's cunning kick set up Bradley.

Arnold's second try, from Hunte's reverse pass, and a penalty try awarded when Sonny Nickle impeded Joey Hayes put a slightly better gloss on it for last year's men.

Bradford would be on their way to this season's title even in the unlikely event of their being beaten last night, but the match had already shown how far they are ahead of the opposition.

St Helens: Haigh; Arnold, Hunte, Newlove, Sullivan; Long, Barrow; Lathem, Cunningham, O'Neill, Joynt, Matautia, Hammond. Substitutes used: Hayes, Pickavance, Morley, Anderson.

Bradford Bulls: Spruce; Calland, Peacock, Loughlin, Hodgson; Bradley, Tomlinson; McDermott, Lowes, Reihana, Forshaw, Dwyer, McNamara. Substitutes used: Graham, Nickle, Jowitt, Anderson.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).