St Helens 60 Warrington 16
Something mysterious happens to Warrington when they make the short journey to St Helens. On the receiving end of a total of 200 points on their last three visits to Knowsley Road, they sprang leaks at a similar rate yesterday as Saints put their recent uncertainties behind them to revel in the freedom they were allowed.
With the Challenge Cup final less than two weeks away, there could be a price to pay for their enjoyment. Alan Hunte limped off with a hamstring injury after scoring the first of their 11 tries and it will be tomorrow before Saints can assess his chances of playing at Wembley.
His departure did not interrupt St Helens' flow. His try was rapidly followed by others from Paul Newlove, Julian O'Neill, Tommy Martyn, Anthony Sullivan and Karle Hammond, all aided to some extent by Warrington's woeful tackling.
"There were too many blokes out there who were not fully committed," was the withering assessment of their coach, Darryl Van de Velde. "Every time Saints touched the ball in the first half, they scored."
The deluge was slightly slowed by the loss of the outstanding Newlove to the sin-bin at the end of the first half. Lee Briers, a St Helens player until Friday afternoon and making an uncomfortable debut for his new club, celebrated his side's temporary one-man advantage with a lobbed pass to Toa Kohe-Love that gave Warrington their only points of the half.
Saints added five more tries after the break, two of them the product of sweeping moves in which the ball was kept alive from one end of the field to the other.
Their coach, Shaun McRae, could afford the luxury of scolding them for losing their direction at times and allowing Warrington to score three tries of their own, two from Mark Forster and the other an instinctive solo from Nigel Vagana.
A high tackle by Chris Morley on Kohe-Love before the last Warrington try saw him placed on report. That gives Saints another potential problem for the run-up to Wembley. Warrington, as is becoming traditional at Knowsley Road, gave them no problem apart from that of keeping the score.
Consequently, there is likely to be another major change of personnel at Warrington. Van de Velde has seen enough to confirm all his early suspicions and restructuring will begin sooner rather than later.
"This squad of players has got rid of two coaches. I won't be the third, I can assure you of that," he said with the air of a man already sharpening the axe.
St Helens: Prescott; Arnold, Hunte, Newlove, Sullivan; Martyn, Goulding; Leatham, Cunningham, O'Neill, Joynt, Morley, Hammond. Substitutes used: Matautia, Northey, Haigh, Anderson.
Warrington: Vagana; Forster, Kohe-Love, Roper, Henare; Shelford, Briers; Chambers, Hulme, Stevens, Mann, Tatapu, Sculthorpe. Substitutes used: Finau, Knott, Darbyshire, Rudd.
Referee: R Smith (Castleford).Reuse content