Pictures Eddie Whitham
ST HELENS won their battle with Warrington to re-affirm their status as favourites to win the war as they went back top of Super League with a 38-12 win.
Warrington never recovered from a costly stint prior to half time where Mike Cooper was in the sin bin for a careless high tackle on Danny Richardson and Saints pulled in to a 20-6 lead.
Chasing the game in the second half, the Wolves never got close enough to threaten St Helens and Stefan Ratchford’s mistake that allowed Matty Lees to score and Tom Lineham’s conceding of an eight-point try summed up their night.
In front of a Totally Stadium Wicked crowd boosted by a sizeable travelling contingent, it took 11 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, Lachlan Coote kicking a penalty through the posts in front of the Wolves fans.
It would be Warrington that scored the first try, a superb tackle by Jonny Lomax on Daryl Clark as he dived for the line didn’t get the reward it deserved, the ball being dislodged in to the path of Blake Austin who had the simple task of picking the ball up and putting it over the try line.
Mark Percival responded for Saints on 21 minutes and then a second Coote penalty goal restored the hosts’ two point advantage.
The key moment came just shy of the half hour mark, as Saints probed the Warrington line, a change of direction from Richardson caught Cooper off balance and he caught the half-back round the chops with an oustretched arm and was sinbinned by referee James Child.
Initially, Warrington showed great resolve in keeping Saints out, and buoyed by that, worked their way up the other end.
But it wouldn’t last, and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook celebrated the recent birth of twins by crashing over before being denied metres short of the line by Ben Currie moments later.
Warrington just couldn’t stop the double whammy happening though, and Lomax crossed for Saints’ third try before Cooper’s re-emergence and the Wolves had work to do at the break.
McCarthy-Scarsbrook came within a whisker of a second try again when he just didn’t ground a kick through, and Warrington dragged themselves back in to the contest when Clark got over, converted by Ratchford for 20-12.
No sooner had they got back in to it again, they had gifted Saints a cushion as the usually dependable Ratchford opted to let a towering Richardson kick bounce, and prop Lees was quickest to react, crashing over under the posts with both Ratchford and Tom Lineham desperately trying in vain to hold him up.
Ratchford went close to making amends at the other end and Ryan Atkins was held up over the line, before a killer blow on the hour when Regan Grace burst through from 60 metres to go over, a try that would be eventually worth eight points after Lineham was penalised for a late challenge as the Welsh winger slid over.
Coote added the two goals and Saints threatened to run riot as they scored two minutes later off a nice passing move right through Tommy Makinson and a trademark finish in the corner.
That proved to be the final score of the night as Saints laid an early marker in the race for the Grand Final at Old Trafford in October.
St Helens: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Peyroux, Knowles. Subs: Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Lees.
Warrington: Ratchford, Lineham, Atkins, King, Charnley, Austin, Patton, Hill, Clark, Cooper, Currie, Hughes, Philbin. Subs: Murdoch-Masila, Clark, Tasi, Davis.