Saints inspired again by Goulding

St Helens 68 Sheffield Eagles 2
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St Helens never looked even for a moment last night like a side that was going to stumble at the penultimate hurdle separating them from the Stones Super League title, writes Dave Hadfield.

Saints dominated from the start, producing some dazzlingly fluent handling to take a commanding lead and add to it at regular intervals.

That was despite having four tries disallowed in the first half, three of them in three minutes. With the Saints in this mood, however, there was always going to be enough legal scoring to take them into the final weekend of the first Super League season as leaders and champions-elect.

So much of the Saints' success this year has been attributable to the influence of Bobbie Goulding, fizzing away at the heart of everything they do. That was the case again last night, with their scrum-half and captain having a vital hand or foot in the first three tries that set them on their way.

His long pass might have bounced before it reached Anthony Sullivan, but the winger picked up cleanly to go outside Sheffield's cover and score.

There was an element of luck in the next, Goulding's kick rebounding off Paul Broadbent's shins for Steve Prescott to touch down, but it was sheer skill that was responsible when Goulding started a slick move that ended with Paul Newlove sending in Sullivan for a swift second.

Then came that remarkable sequence of disallowed tries ended with Karle Hammond followed Goulding's break from the scrum to claim one that brooked no argument.

Hammond soon swooped for a second, taking Chris Morley's pass to go over and Prescott also became a double try-scorer before the break, leaping high to take a perfectly placed kick from Goulding.

Prescott won the race to a hat-trick after Anthony Farrell had lost the ball in a tackle and Tommy Martyn had picked up.

Hammond scored his third with a quickly taken penalty and even with a further four tries disallowed, Saints were compiling an impressive tally, improved upon again when Andy Haigh went in from Joey Hayes's pass.

It was a demoralised Sheffield defence that opened up to allow Alan Hunte to score Saints' 10th try, Sullivan added his third and Prescott helped himself to his fourth by pursuing Goulding's kick.

St Helens: Prescott; Hayes, Hunte, Newlove, Sullivan; Martyn, Goulding; Perelili, Cunningham, Fogerty, Joynt, Morley, Hammond. Substitutes: Haigh, Pickavance, McVey.

Sheffield Eagles: Mycoe; Dakuitoga, Stott, Senior, Garcia; Lawford, Aston; Broadbent, Lawless, Laughton, Hughes, Carr, Cook. Substitutes: Turner, Sheridan, Farrell, McAllister.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).