Rugby League: Stott's drop goal stuns Saints

Wakefield Trinity 23 St Helens 22
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The Independent Online
ST HELENS lost their perfect record in astonishing fashion at Barnsley last night, Lynton Stott's drop goal four minutes from time giving Wakefield an unlikely but thoroughly deserved victory.

The side promoted from last year's First Division and widely tipped to go straight back down made a mockery of that assessment with a tremendous performance. Saints were flattered to be only eight points in arrears at half-time and, even after they seemed to be taking over, Trinity had the self-belief to come back and clinch the season's most surprising result.

Wakefield went behind to a Kieron Cunningham try but were by far the more purposeful side in the first half with the March twins, David and Paul, tormenting Saints with their energy and invention.

David's run and pass sent in Adrian Brunker for the try that tied the scores and then Paul Wellens made a mess of Glen Tomlinson's kick to allow Neil Law to go over.

A piece of audacity from Paul March then gave them a lead their supporters could barely believe. He kicked through and then stole the ball from Chris Joynt; it was typical of the enthusiasm and optimism with which they were playing.

Wakefield could have been in an even better position if they had capitalised on Vince Fawcett's break and if Tomlinson had not knocked on immediately before the interval. From that possession, Tommy Martyn, belatedly introduced into the game, linked with Paul Atcheson to put Paul Sculthorpe over for the try that revived Saints.

Tries from Wellens and Sean Long gave them the lead in the second half but, instead of folding as might have been expected, Trinity found the strength of character to set about the job all over again.

An Adam Hughes penalty, his fifth successful kick, brought them level and, after Martyn had failed with a drop goal and the well-policed Paul Newlove had lost the ball going for the line, Stott decided it. The former Sheffield Eagles winger had never landed a drop goal in his life, but found plenty of time and space to slot this one over confidently.

Even Saints' coach Ellery Hanley admitted that if Martyn had snatched it back with an injury-time penalty from inside his own half justice would not have been done.

"We did not deserve any more than we got from that game," he said. "Their desire was greater than ours, but we had to lose somewhere, sometime."

Few people expected it to be last night at Oakwell, to a side priced at 2000-1 for the Super League title before the start of the season. "It just shows there's hope for everyone," said Trinity's delighted coach, Andy Kelly.

Wakefield Trinity: Kenward; Stott, Brunker, Hughes, Law; P March, Tomlinson; Stephenson, D March, Field, Price, Fisher, Fawcett. Substitutes used: Talbot, Jackson, McDonald, Watene.

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

Referee: J Connelly (Wigan).