ST HELENS are still the curse of Warrington Wolves as they came from behind to win 26-40 at the Halliwell Jones.
Warrington could not be faulted for effort while missing play maker Lee Briers alongside skipper Adrian Morley and leading scoring Chris Hicks who were late withdrawals through injury.
And while Saints were without Sean Long and Keiron Cunnigham, it was Long’s replacement, young scrum half Karl Eastmond who proved to the thorn in the Wolves’ side, who still only have one win and two draws to their credit against St Helens since the start of Super League.
The teenager constantly carved out openings, creating two tries and scoring one himself as well as landing six coversions.
It had all started so well for the Wolves who were 6-0 up in as many minutes after a great move saw Louise Anderson race clear, supported by Matt King who sent Jon Clarke over. Chris Bridge added the extras.
But in what was probably a key turning point in the game came moments later as Jon Wilkin inflicted a high shot on Simon Grix, who had to leave the field with a badly gashed mouth and was unable to return. While Wilkin escaped unpunished Lee Gilmour powered through a huge gap in the Warrington defence which was in disarray as Grix left the field injured. Eastmond added the extras to level the scores.
Saints then hit a purple patch as James Graham crashed over with Eastmond’s conversion making it 6-12 to the visitors. Eastmond then slotted over a penalty after Vinnie Anderson was penalised for a high tackle.
But back came the Wolves as Bridge showed a nice side step to power over and then added the extras to close the gap to 12-14.
But then with just 10 seconds left on the clock Roby hacked forward a loose ball and raced sixty yards before the ball was swept out wide to Ade Gardener who went in at the corner. Eastmond was wide with the conversion but Saints had the half-time advantage.
Five minutes after the break Warrington were back on level terms as Paul Johnson powered over with Bridge adding the extras.
Then four minutes later the Warrington faithful started to believe they could see the end of the Saints curse as prop Gareth Carvell (pictured) scored probably the greatest try of his career from inside his own half.
After collecting a loose ball the Prop showed true guts and determination to out pace the Saints defence to score a breathtaking try which brought the house down. Bridge added the conversion to make it 24-18.
But as is often the case against St Helens, Warrington’s joy was short-lived as Eastmond carved open the defence to send over Paul Wellens, adding the extras to level the scores.
A Bridge penalty gave Warrington a slight advantage but with little fuel left in the tank the Wolves’ spirits sank on 67 minutes when Wellens ghosted through a tiring defence and returned the favour for man-of-the-match Eastmond to touch down and add the extras to make it 26-30.
The on 72 minutes the gripping contest was over as Graham went over for his second try after Eastmond had been just held short following a great try saving tackle by Matt King.
Five minutes from time Meli rubbed salt in the wounds out pacing Brian Carney to touch down a precision kick from Jon Wilkins. Eastmond was wide with the conversion but Saints were home and dry as the heavens opened to provide welcome relief for the players from both teams who had given their all.
It was a baptism of fire for the returning Carney who was playing his first game of League in three years. After the match he confessed that Warrington had allowed Saints too much space.Wolves’ Coach Tony Smith said he was pleased with the effort put in by his players but the “best team had won on the day.”
Wolves: Richie Mathers; Brian Carney, Simon Grix, Matt King, Chris Riley; Chris Bridge, Michael Monaghan; Paul Wood, Jon Clarke, Garreth Carvell, Louis Anderson, Ben Westwood, Ben Harrison. Subs: Paul Johnson, Mike Cooper, Vinnie Anderson, Lee Mitchell.
Saints: Paul Wellens; Ade Gardner, Gary Wheeler, Lee Gilmour, Francis Meli; Leon Pryce, Kyle Eastmond; James Graham, James Roby, Paul Clough, Jon Wilkin, Chris Flannery, Tony Puletua. Subs: Andrew Dixon, Mauri Fa’asavalu, Bryn Hargreaves, Jonny Lomax.
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