Rugby League: Saints take advantage of errors

St Helens 46 Halifax Blue Sox 10
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WHEN YOU have a mid-season slump to pull out of, the arrival of a side with Halifax's troubles puts your own into perspective.

A Yorkshire team beset with uncertainties about what the future holds always threatened to be good for Saints' rehabilitation after three losses in a row, although the final margin flatters the extent to which they recovered their early season sparkle.

Without looking remotely back to their best last night, Saints capitalised on enough of Halifax's errors to be comfortably in front at half-time.

It was Oliver Marns' fumble from Sean Long's high kick that presented Paul Atcheson with the first try. Then, with their player-coach, Gary Mercer, in the sin-bin for deliberate offside, Paul Wellens figured three times in the move that saw Chris Joynt punish them again.

Halifax's problems were summed up by the next try. When they should have been getting the ball from Long's knock-on, they were conceding an offside penalty on the other side of the field to allow Joynt to go over for his second.

Anthony Sullivan's try was something far more special, the Great Britain winger seizing on an interception 10 yards from his own line and keeping his nose ahead of Daryl Cardiss on the 90-yard dash to the other end.

Apart from three goals from Graham Holroyd, Halifax's only reply was a try set up by Des Clark's superb pass and finished by Cardiss's rapid acceleration.

Any hope that gave them was quickly snuffed out when a ricochet from Long's low kick allowed Tony Stewart to pick up and score at his leisure, and Long, Wellens, Fereti Tuilagi and Kieron Cunningham all added tries to underline the fact that Saints' bad run was well and truly over, even if they have some way to go before they look capable of returning to the top of the table.

"The wheels are back on the van," said the Saints coach, Ellery Hanley. "It will travel a lot more smoothly than this before the end of the season."

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

Halifax Blue Sox: Cardiss; Pinkney, Gibson, Bouveng, Marns; Moana, Holroyd; Broadbent, Rowley, Marshall, Mercer, Clark, Fearon. Substitutes used: Hobson, Gillespie, Craig, Seal.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).