St Helens 34 Wakefield Trinity 30: Valiant Wakefield give leaders Saints a real fright
St Helens went six points clear at the top of Betfred Super League as they extended their winning run to eight games against Wakefield '“ the last team to beat them back in April.
However, the hosts were given a huge scare as a resilient Trinity outfit clawed back a 20-6 half-time deficit with four quickfire tries to lead 26-20.
Late tries from Regan Grace, Zeb Taia and James Roby turned the game back in favour of Justin Holbrook’s men in a breathless second half.
Roby, Mark Percival, Jonny Lomax and Tommy Makinson all featured for Saints after playing in England’s win over New Zealand in Denver on Saturday.
Saints took the lead in the 12th minute when a set move from the scrum saw the ball quickly worked to the left edge and Grace took the final pass from Percival to score in the corner.
Wakefield came into the game having only won three times on their travels this season but they were quickly level when winger Tom Johnstone intercepted a pass from Ryan Morgan just a few metres from the Saints line and had the simple job of touching down.
Some wonderful play from stand-off Lomax was rewarded in the 24th minute when he took an inside pass from Percival to finish off a 40-metre move.
With six minutes of the half remaining, Danny Richardson scored Saints’ third try after he picked up a pass from Makinson after a high kick had caught out the Wakefield defence. Richardson added the goal as well as a penalty moments later to give Saints a 14-point lead at the break.
Just three minutes of the second half had been played when full-back Ryan Hampshire took the final pass from former Saints man Matty Ashurst to race in and Liam Finn added the conversion.
Revitalised Wakefield scored again in the 52nd minute when Jacob Miller bravely collected his own kick to score by the posts and the visitors’ fightback was complete when Mason Caton-Brown fought his way over from dummy half to get the ball down.
Things got even better for Chris Chester’s men when Johnstone claimed his second try as he took Bill Tupou’s pass to the wing and got the ball down. However, Saints were not finished and they scored the game’s best try in the 65th minute. Taia got clear and had Percival in support, who raced away before Grace cut infield to complete a thrilling move.
The try revitalised Saints, who regained their lead with 11 minutes remaining. Hooker Roby showed his predatory instincts by bursting through from dummy-half and Richardson’s goal made it 30-26.
Saints ended any Wakefield hopes of another comeback when Taia managed to get the ball down despite the attentions of two Wakefield defenders.
With time almost up, Reece Lyne kept his side’s faint hopes alive with a try in the corner and Wakefield refused the conversion in order to get the ball back from the restart more quickly but it was to no avail.
St Helens: Barba, Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Douglas, Roby, Thompson, Peyroux, Taia, Wilkin. Subs: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Lees.
Wakefield: Hampshire, Caton-Brown, Tupou, Lyne, Johnstone, Miller, Finn, England, Randell, Fifita, Batchelor, Ashurst, Arona. Subs: Wood, Hirst, Pauli, Annakin.
Referee: James Child (RFL).
In last night’s other games, Hull FC edged bottom side Widnes 31-24, Huddersfield Giants slumped 37-10 away at Hull KR and Warrington saw off visiting Salford Red Devils 30-14.