Saints see pot at end of rainbow

Paris St-Germain 12 St Helens 32
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The Independent Online
St Helens outnumbered and finally outgunned Paris last night. Although it was not their tidiest or most controlled performance of the season it took them back to the top of the Stones Super League.

Sitting watching rugby in the pouring rain is not yet part of the Parisian psyche, so the Charlety Stadium resembled an outpost of Knowsley Road with Saints fans, who have the smell of the championship in their nostrils, ignoring the weather to go into party mode.

They did not have long to wait to find something to celebrate, with their side going into a rapid 10-point lead, Bobbie Goulding's lobbed pass sending in Alan Hunte and some brilliant improvisation keeping the ball alive for Tommy Martyn's measured kick to set up Anthony Sullivan.

Perhaps excessively encouraged by that early success, Saints' determination to also keep the ball alive in their own quarter allowed Paris to hit back. Hunte's pass off the floor was picked up by Pascal Bomati and Patrick Entat's well-judged kick gave Deon Bird a try.

Two goals from Danny Smith kept Paris in touch until a lost ball 20 yards from their try-line gave Apollo Perelini the chance to scoop up and score.

Although Saints were making just as many handling mistakes as their opponents in the difficult conditions, they were now in a comfortable position, all the more so when, as a spectacular rainbow arced across the surburban skyline, Keiron Cunningham darted over in familiar fashion from dummy half.

Ten minutes into the second half, Martyn took Goulding's pass, ran at the defence and, with a shimmy and a flick to pass, released Steve Prescott to go over for Saints' fifth try. Even with their captain, Entat, in the sinbin, Paris lacked nothing in determination, but Saints caught them cold from a scrum, Prescott coming into the line for Sullivan to claim his second.

With Saints temporarily reduced to 12 men during Martyn's visit to the bin, Paris grabbed a deserved second try, Bomati squeezing over in the corner. It served to underline the fact that this was not the most convincing display from Saints, who left Paul Newlove on the bench to rest a troublesome foot injury.

The mathematics are now all in their favour, however. They have come safely through a month of away matches and now have just two home fixtures, against Sheffield Eagles and Warrington, separating them from lifting the inaugural Super League title.

Even on a murky Parisian night, the finishing line was in sight by the end of this game.

Paris St-Germain: Lucchese; Bomati, Chamorin, Vergniol, Wilson; Bird, Entat; Bloomfield, Wulf, Sands, Plech, Bryant, Smith. Subs used: Banquet, Cabestany, Griffiths, Parry.

St Helens: Prescott; Hayes, Hunte, Haigh, Sullivan; Martyn, Goulding; Perelini, Cunningham, Fogerty, McVey, Morley, Hammond. Subs used: Pickavance, Arnold, Busby. Not used: Newlove

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).