A MAJESTIC second half display saw the Saints stun the table topping Wolves 40-13 to hand them only their third defeat of the season, writes Graham Henthorne.Tormentor in chief, with a personal haul of 20 points, was the enigmatic Lee Gaskell. Operating from the unfamiliar full back position he was always a danger to the Wolves with his deceptive pace and the ability to ghost through the tightest of defences.It’s almost customary for the Saints to give their opposition a start and tonight was no different as some poor tackling let the Wolves in for a sloppy try.But that stung the Saints into action and for the next quarter of an hour both teams struggled to find an opening.As time wore on the Saints looked the more likely. Firstly Nathan Ashe was beaten to the touchdown from his own grubber, then Adam Swift knocked on as he hit the floor after being put away by Scott Hales pass.A big defensive set on their own line from the Saints kept the Wolves at bay. Jordan Case picked up the last tackle grubber and four tackles later Ashe’s show and go on half way created the space for him to put Danny Yates in under the posts.From the restart the Saints hit the front as a sublime pass from stand-off (in his own mind) Ant Walker put Gaskell away. He shimmied one way then the other which proved too much for the full back who sat down to admire his opposite numbers skills allowing Gaskell to stroll in under the posts.The kick off was allowed to bounce into touch and straight from the scrum the Wolves were in at the right corner.Two minutes to go to the break the visitors surprisingly took a penalty to level the scores when the Saints were caught offside.This willingness to kick for goal rather than try to break the Saints defensive line was used as a rallying cry at half time a fact backed up 10 minutes into the second half as the Wolves dropped a goal on the last tackle.By that time the Saints had missed two golden opportunities to take the lead. James Tilley offloaded to Yates but the scrum half dummied instead of diving over and was again denied minutes later reaching for the line after collecting a great offload from Carl Forster.The turning point came on the drop goal restart. The visitors lost possession on their own 30 and four tackles later watched as Gaskell collected Yates’ neat grubber to score.Fierce tackling again forced the error with Gaskell this time providing the scoring pass for centre Gary Wheeler as he looped around the back of the Saints line.The last hurrah for the Wolves came with 15 minutes left as they battered the Saints line only to come up empty handed yet again as the Saints showed an urgency in defence often sadly lacking.On regaining possession Forster, Tilley and Walker marched down field only for Swift to rise salmon-like over the top of the Wolves static defenders to catch Ashe’s chip.Further scores to Lewis Foster stretching out to score and Jayden Sandford taking Gaskell’s kick through on the final whistle put the icing on a very appetising cake.This was a great confidence boosting performance. To dismantle the table toppers in such a clinical fashion augurs well for the future. There were some great individual displays from Swift and Hale. Yates, Gaskell and Ashe’s kicking always had the Wolves in trouble but as ever victories like this are made on the back of a dominant forward pack and tonight was no exception. Forster, Walker, Tilley and Danny Jones had the better of their opposite numbers and it showed on the scoreboard.Match Summary:St Helens:Tries: Lee Gaskell 2, Jayden Sandford, Adam Swift, Gary Wheeler, Danny Yates, Lewis Foster.Goals: Lee Gaskell 6.Warrington:Tries: Danny Birkett, James Mendieka.Goals: Gareth O’Brien 2.Drop Goals: Bobbie Goulding.Half Time: 12-12Full Time: 40-13Teams:Saints:1. Lee Gaskell; 2. Jayden Sandford, 3. Adam Swift, 18. Gary Wheeler, 5. Lewis Charnock; 6. Nathan Ashe, 7. Danny Yates; 8. Anthony Walker, 9. Marcus Baines, 10. Carl Forster, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Jordan Case, 13. Danny Jones.Subs: 14. Lewis Foster, 15. James Tilley, 16. Alex Trumper, 17. Adam Hesketh.Warrington:1. Jordan Burke; 2. Danny Birkett, 4. Ben Hellewell, 3. James Mendieka, 5. Gene Ormsby; 7. Gareth O’Brien, 6. Bobbie Goulding; 20. Glenn Riley, 9. Brad Dwyer, 19. Jack Morrison, 11. James Laithwaite, 12. Danny Bridge, 13. Jack Cooper.Subs: 14. Callan Beckett, 15. Andy Finn, 17. Ryan Maneely, 18. Brooke Broughton.
FRANCIS Meli saw red as Saints bowed out of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup at Hull KR.The winger was sent off for a high tackle on Craig Hall late in the first half.But Nathan Brown’s side almost upset the odds in a spirited and brave fightback.The Robins led 16-6 at half time as Hall profited twice from errors.But tries from Paul Wellens and Mark Percival saw Saints take the advantage with just over half an hour remaining.Greg Eden wrestled the lead back for the home side yet they couldn’t shake off the depleted visitors who refused to lie down.As time ticked down though, Liam Salter latched on to Michael Dobson’s kick for the killer blow.Saints welcomed Ade Gardner and Tony Puletua back into the starting line up with Stuart Howarth and Paul Wellens taking up the half back berths.In the pack Jon Wilkin was named at 13 whilst centre Mark Percival was on the bench.Still missing were Josh Perry, James Roby, Jonny Lomax, Willie Manu, Gary Wheeler and Anthony Walker.George Griffin returned for Hull KR with Travis Burns.Hull KR kicked off and promptly put the ball out on the full – Saints then returned the favour by being called for a forward pass on their first drive.Tommy Makinson put Saints in good field position moments later but on the Robins’ next drive Jon Wilkin was put on report for a shoulder charge on Michael Dobson that left him shaken.Francis Meli was then called for a high tackle but Saints defended the threat.You felt the home side were always on top though and on their next set – after an error and penalty – they profited.Saints couldn’t defend the strong line runners and a cute little chip was collected by Craig Hall.Michael Dobson converted and seconds later it should have been more but David Hodgson knocked on with the line at his mercy.Seconds later though Mickey Paea was over after Gardner was called for a shoulder charge.Saints hit back with a try right out of the top drawer.The ball was switched to the left following a fantastic Jordan Turner break on the right and then it went through several pairs of hands back over to its originator and the centre duly put Ade Gardner in.Tommy Makinson converting from the touchline.Saints had their tails up and had another good chance as the half wore on.But after a break down the right hand side Francis Meli was sent off for a high tackle on Craig Hall – and he can have no complaints.And Hall then twisted the screw by popping up in the corner.With a man down Hull KR were finding gaps but Saints galvanised their defence just enough to get in just ten points down at half time.It went without saying that Saints needed a big start to the second half and they almost got it after superb Makinson and Percival breaks.And after a cheeky kick Paul Wellens mopped up.Makinson converting to make it a four-point game.And it got even better as Mark Percival latched on to Howarth and Soliola’s link up.Makinson putting Saints two to the good.Hull KR were denied a score when the ball was knocked on in the build-up – but on their next set they opened up the defence and Greg Eden sneaked through.Dobson adding his third conversion of the afternoon.12-man Saints continued to push and probe and won a drop out with 15 minutes remaining.But the killer blow was landed when Michael Dobson chipped to Liam Salter late on.Match Summary:Hull KR:Tries: Hall (2), Paea, Eden, SalterGoals: Dobson (3 from 5)Saints:Tries: Gardner, Wellens, PercivalGoals: Makinson (3 from 3)Penalties:Hull KR: 7Saints: 5HT: 6-16FT: 18-26REF: Richard SilverwoodATT: 4454Teams:Hull KR:1. Greg Eden; 2. Craig Hall, 3. Kris Welham, 18. Liam Salter, 5. David Hodgson; 6. Travis Burns, 7. Michael Dobson; 23. Mickey Paea, 9. Josh Hodgson, 16. Adam Walker, 13. Rhys Lovegrove, 12. Cory Paterson, 25. George Griffin.Subs: 11. Constantine Mika, 21. Keal Carlile, 22. Richard Beaumont, 24. James Green.Saints:21. Tom Makinson; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Jordan Turner, 19. Josh Jones, 5. Francis Meli; 36. Stuart Howarth, 1. Paul Wellens; 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 6. Lance Hohaia, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin.Subs: 16. Paul Clough, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 30. Mark Percival.
“I thought our opening 20, 25 minutes weren’t great in terms of our ruck control,” he said. “They had an edge with their carries and middle defence but credit to the players they hung on in there without being at their best.“Theo (Fages) coming off hurt us and we had to move stuff about. It wasn’t working in attack but we had plenty of chances down their end of the field. We were a little clunky but shuffled at half time and put people in different spots.“We flowed better in the second half and you cannot fault the effort and fight in that half. Salford are a good side and are playing some good stuff. It is always tough to come here but we overcame that early adversity to get back into the game.“We were fighting until the end and within a chance of winning the game, but got a little panicky and unforced errors hurt us. Credit to Salford, they got the cash today.”He added: “We got intensity in the second half and you ask the question why we don’t start like that. We knew Salford would fight and had a point to prove on their own midden. We knew they would be up for it and we let ourselves down in that opening gambit.”Cunningham said Fages came off with a head injury and that will be assessed in the coming days.“He’s a tough kid so for him to come off the field he must have been pretty dazed,” he concluded.