Defensive blunders cost

Wolves victory

by Gary Skentelbery

WARRINGTON paid the penalty for some first half defensive blunders as they went down 34-22 to table topping St Helens.
But the brave Wolves nearly produced the greatest Super League comeback of all time as they pushed the Saints all the way in a pulsating second-half fight back.
Both teams were missing key players but Warrington looked to have blown the chance of their first ever Super League victory at Knowsley Road as Saints stormed into a 24-6 half-time lead with three quick fire tries before the break.
Having failed to defeat St Helens in their 15 Super League meetings, the chances of a turnaround appeared slim for a depleted Warrington line-up.
But inspired by skipper Lee Briers Warrington refused to give in and came close to completing an amazing turnaround with three second-half tries.
It was only when Ade Gardner intercepted a pass to go the length of the field for his second try of the match that St Helens could breathe a sigh of relief knowing they had survived an almighty scare.
Warrington started brightly enough grabbing the first try of the match as Michael Sullivan fought his way over the line after Mark Gleeson's darting run from dummy half.
The lead did not last long, though, as Gilmour pushed the hosts back in front with his first of the night when he claimed Sean Long's up-and-under on the left after out jumping Henry Fa'afili.
The 8-4 scoreline reflected that there was little to choose between the two teams, yet suddenly Saints blew the match wide open with a three-try burst in the space of seven minutes. Gilmour grabbed the first of the treble when he was left with a simple finish after a fine burst down the middle from substitute James Roby. The former Wigan and Bradford forward could even have had a hat-trick just minutes later but he unselfishly chose to offload the ball for winger Gardner to canter over in the corner. After working so hard, Warrington suddenly found themselves in all sorts of trouble and it got even worse before half time. A huge hole down the middle of their defence allowed Vinnie Anderson to gallop over and, with Lyon slotting over his fifth successful kick, the Wolves went in at the break trailing 26-4.
Warrington did score first after the break through Fa'afili and, with Saints carelessly coughing up possession, Ritchie Barnett's try soon after suddenly gave them renewed hope of an amazing comeback. Briers' conversion meant the gap was down to 10 points and suddenly a mood of panic gripped the majority of the crowd at Knowsley Road.
The nerves certainly seemed to be getting to the players too, particularly Leon Pryce as he gifted Warrington a penalty try with a rash tackle on Barnett when the winger appeared likely to win the race to a loose ball over the try line.
A Lyon's penalty finally got Saints on the board in the second half and put a six-point gap between the two teams going into the final few minutes.
The Wolves bravely fought on but, in their attempts to find a try to level the scores and Stuart Reardon looked to be on his way to the line to snatch a draw but gifted an interception try to Gardner who raced the length of the field to clinch the two points.

St Helens (26) 34. Tries: Gilmour 2, Gardner 2, V. Anderson. Goals: Lyon 6, Long.

Warrington (4) 22. Tries: Sullivan, Fa'afili, Barnett. Goals: Briers 3.

  • Pictures show Michael Sullivan opening the scoring and Mike Wainwright taking on the Saints defence.

    Pictures courtesy of Neil Ashurst