Rugby League: Saints stay on top

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ST HELENS had to dig deep to ensure they stayed top of the JJB Super League yesterday, surviving a spirited late fightback from Halifax at The New Shay to win 28-22. Despite leading 18-0 at the break, Saints were forced to endure an uncomfortable closing stage to the game after Halifax hit back with four second-half tries.

A half-time announcement by the Blue Sox directors to the fans pledged that the debt-ridden club would not be allowed to fold. Instead there could be a merger or voluntary relegation to the Northern Ford Premiership to reduce costs.

Gateshead Thunder overcame the loss of their captain, Kerrod Walters, and playmaker Willie Peters to run out 26-18 winners over Sheffield Eagles to record their seventh win.

They announced after the game that Walters, a former Australian Test hooker, would not be returning to Tyneside. The 31-year-old has flown back home for what Thunder's chief executive Shane Richardson described as "personal reasons".

Walters' wife was seriously injured in a road accident on holiday in Thailand three weeks ago but Richardson said that was not the only factor.