Rugby League: Therapy works for St Helens

St Helens 68 Huddersfield 18
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The Independent Online
AFTER A week that had been turbulent and unsettling even by St Helens' exalted standards, Huddersfield were exactly what was required.

With the bitter taste of two heavy defeats by Wigan still fresh on the palate, Shaun McRae on borrowed time and Bobbie Goulding running out of second chances, Saints needed point-scoring therapy.

They were given it by Super League's bottom team, who were a bad advert for the abolition of relegation. In previous seasons, the threat of the drop would have been enough to keep worse teams than Huddersfield reasonably honest.

There would at least have been a bit of passion, whatever their other limitations, but there was little of that at Knowsley Road yesterday, as they rolled over meekly and allowed Saints to vent some of their recent frustrations.

Not that Saints' lowest home crowd of the season was fooled. They knew that against such poor opposition, even a disjointed side should have scored a shed-full of points and that the shed should possibly have been bigger.

Two tries in the first 14 minutes from Chris Joynt and Paul Newlove set them on their way and, for the most part, it took only routine play to break down Huddersfield thereafter.

When they rose above that level, it was usually thanks to flashes of instinctive rugby from what will be, in the presumed absence of Goulding, a half-back partnership for the future, Tommy Martyn and Sean Long.

Long's pacy break set up Paul Atcheson for the first of his hat-trick and, after his interception had paved the way for Julian O'Neill's try, an amazing pick-up of Paul Davidson's pass from his ankles set up Karle Hammond.

Martyn's ball sent Davidson through some tackling that was lacking in resolution even by Huddersfield's standards of the afternoon and then his extravagant one-handed pass released Damien Smith.

Saints only had to look at Huddersfield's defence to go through it after that, with Atcheson completing his tally, Chris Smith getting two and Anthony Sullivan the other.

Huddersfield, almost despite themselves, got over for three tries of their own, just as a reminder that Saint's defending remains vulnerable when put under any sort of pressure.

Huddersfield's caretaker coach, Phil Veivers, was not mollified by any of that, calling his side's performance "total capitulation", adding: "I said to them that they should take off their shirts and look for a heart."

That was an accurate assessment of their efforts and one that put Saint's 68 points into context.

St Helens: Atcheson; C Smith, D Smith, Newlove, Sullivan; Martyn, Long; Perelini, Cunningham, O'Neill, Joynt, Davidson, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Hammond, Pickavance. Matautia, Anderson.

Huddersfield: Arnold; Cook, Weston, Hanger, Bell; Orr, Booth; Wittenberg, Russell, Field, Richards, King, Sturm. Substitutes used: Bunyon, Berry, Neill, Fielden.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

Results, page 19

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