Pictures Eddie Whitham
A WEAKENED Warrington Wolves side went down to St Helens for a third time this season, losing 30-12.
In a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup final at Wembley later this month, a Wire side missing Blake Austin, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark and Jack Hughes, amongst others, suffered their sixth league loss in eight outings.
A Stefan Ratchford penalty dragged them back within a score at 18-12 midway through the second half, but Saints’ superior strength showed in the final quarter.
It was a new look Wire side, with youngster Riley Dean making his debut alongside new signing Matty Smith at half-back, and teenager Josh Thewlis starting on the wing.
Danny Walker started at hooker, and Wire’s task was made harder by losing him through an ankle injury in the first half, with Ben Currie also forced off the pitch due to concussion leaving an already weakened side down to 15.
They started brightly though, a nice move orchestrated by Walker out of dummy half was moved on by Dean, with quick hands by Ratchford creating an overlap for Jake Mamo, sinbinned twice in the fiery encounter at Catalans last week, to stroll in at the corner.
Saints, who were also missing a number of key players, would turn things around on 11 minutes, Danny Richardson’s short kick forcing a repeat set, and from the resulting drop out, a sharp pass by Jack Welsby was taken at head height by Kevin Naiqama at speed, the centre running it around to the posts for Saints to go 6-4 in front.
The battle continued and it was Wire who got the next score, Thewlis grabbing a try in the left corner, though that lead was shortlived, Saints replying through a speedy Jonny Lomax three minutes later.
Warrington huffed and puffed at the end of the first half, and in the end settled for a penalty on the hooter which reduced arrears to 12-10 at half time.
It would be Saints that got the next score, and again it came off a drop out. Ratchford’s kick was fielded by Kyle Amor who brushed off a feeble Luis Johnson tackle attempt to power forward and he sent Joseph Paulo over the line in broken play.
Ratchford’s penalty on 55 minutes came after a positive period of play for Warrington, moving them to within six points at 18-12, but they couldn’t make the most of it.
Just seven minutes later, Matty Costello got on the outside of Luther Burrell to power over on the left, and when Tommy Makinson pulled off a trademark finish in the right corner, it was curtains for the hosts.
The result leaves Warrington 14 points behind leaders Saints, and now has them nervously looking over their shoulder, just two points ahead of Hull, who travel to lowly Wakefield on Sunday.
Warrington: Ratchford, Mamo, Burrell, Goodwin, Thewlis, Dean, Smith, Hill, Walker, Akauola, Currie, Livett, Westwood. Subs: Murdoch-Masila, Tasi, Davis, Johnson.
St Helens: Welsby, Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace, Lomax, Richardson, Thompson, Smith, Lees, Taia, Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Bentley.