An epic game that revived memories of what was, for years, the biggest rivalry in Super League was won, against all the odds, by two late tries from the Bulls’ Michael Worrincy.
“He has the potential to do something like that,” said the Bradford coach, Steve McNamara, of his winter signing from Harlequins. “He’s managed by Martin Offiah and and he can certainly sniff out a try.”
Next to bottom at kick-off and thrashed by Warrington last week, th Bulls beat the leaders after surviving a 26-point deluge that threatened to sweep them away before half-time.
The key factor in the opening minutes was David Solomona. The second-rower created two tries for his winger, Semi Tadulala, the first of them with a measured kick after Ben Jeffries appeared to have knocked on and Saints’ defence hesitated. Saints were even more out of character for the second, losing 50 metres trying to keep the ball alive and giving Solomona the position from which to work.
With Solomona off the field with his arm in a sling, though, St Helens were about to cut loose. They struck form with devastating effect with five tries in 12 minutes before half time.
Leon Pryce, the threat of prison finally removed this week, linked with Lee Gilmour to send Ade Gardner over. Five minutes later, Meli was in on the opposite wing, quickly followed by Pryce stretching out to put Saints ahead. Another flowing move sent young Gary Wheeler over and James Roby’s break gave Meli his second as the complexion of the game changed completely.
The Bulls did not crumble in the second half, responding to new boy Julien Rinaldi’s promptings to claim a try through Craig Koczak, before Saints flair seemed to have put them clear again when Wheeler kicked ahead for Sean Long. But Bradford refused to be shaken off, with Sam Burgess struggling over and Worrincy racing in soon after.
Paul Sykes’ fourth goal brought them within two points and Worrincy dived on to Jeffries’ kick to put them in front 11 minutes from time.
“They just weren’t for giving up,” said Saints’ Mick Potter. “We were beaten by the better side tonight.”
St Helens: Wellens; Gardner, Dean, Gilmour, Meli; Pryce, Long; Hargreaves, Cunningham, Graham, Wilkin, Flannery, Clough. Substitutes used: Roby, Fa’asavalu, Wheeler, Ashurst.
Bradford: Halley; Sheriffe, Menzies, Platt, Tadulala; Sykes, Jeffries; Lynch, Newton, Scruton, Solomona, Burgess, Langley. Substitutes used: Cook, Worrincy, Kopczak, Rinaldi.
Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).