Saints remain on course

Rugby League: Oldham 18 St Helens 54
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The Independent Online
Oldham 18 St Helens 54

St Helens stayed on course for the Stones Super League title last night, but it took some sparkling rugby to suppress a sprited Oldham, writes Dave Hadfield.

Saints owed their 18-14 half-time lead to moments of great quality rather than overall dominance. The first saw Paul Newlove get his pass around the corner to Danny Arnold to wipe out Oldham's early lead from a penalty. The second began with an excellent pass out of the tackle from Adam Fogerty to send Apollo Perelini striding half the length of the field, outpacing Oldham backs as he went.

The third, constructed by Newlove and Arnold for Karle Hammond, gave Saints what appeared to be a commanding lead, even though Oldham clearly felt there had been a forward pass in the build-up.

Oldham got the points their enthusiasm deserved when Paul Topping sent in Scott Ranson. They drew even closer before the break when Crompton's stabbed kick caught Saints' defence static and Chris McKinney won the race to touch down.

With David Bradbury in the sin-bin, however, and only 40 seconds of the second half gone, Saints showed their ability to conjure flashes of magic once more, Perelini again demonstrating his remarkable pace and taking Joey Hayes's return pass to score.

Still Oldham would not lie down, working the ball along the line for Adrian Belle to score. A try for Hayes restored the differential, but Saints could not feel comfortable until Arnold touched down on the opposite wing before Goulding's cross-kick gave Hayes his second.

Hammond and Newlove each scrambled their second and Alan Hunte went 90 yards for another, but the scoreline did not reflect a good contest.

Oldham: Atcheson; Ranson, Topping, Hill, Belle; Maloney, Crompton; Gildart, Munro, Temu, Lord, Faimalo, Bradbury. Substitutes: Guy, Crooks, Davidson, McKinney.

St Helens: Prescott; Arnold, Hunte, Newlove, Hayes; Hammond, Goulding; Derelini, Cunningham, Fogerty, Joynt, McVey, Morley. Substitutes: Haigh, Matautia, Northey, Pickavance.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).