Danny Richardson’s last-gasp penalty goal snatched a 14-12 victory for St. Helens over the Warrington Wolves at the Totally wicked stadium as they end the regular season on a high.
The victory sees saints move 12 points clear, with Wigan yet to play, whilst Warrington remain in third level on points with Castleford.
Warrington were left to rue their chances, controlling most of the game from the start. Tyrone Roberts and Daryl Clark looked lively early on and it was the latter who opened the scoring.
As the Wolves lay siege to the Saints line re-called England prop Mike Cooper came up with an offload in a three-man tackle which fell for the grateful Clark to dive over.
Defence was the order of the day following the opening try, as both sides showed brilliant scrambling defence to keep each other at bay. So much so, Roberts settled for a penalty goal late on in the half to make it 8-0.
Saints looked a shadow of the team seen this year in the first-half finding themselves deservedly behind. However, they wasted little time in the second-half reducing the deficit.
Jonny Lomax created a half-break from 50m out and Mark Percival raced through to find Ben Barba in support for his 23rd try of the season. Richardson converted, yet Roberts kicked two more penalties to make it 6-12.
The provider then turned scorer after Saints survived a scare from Josh Charnley, working downfield Saints spread the ball left and Zeb Taia showed great sleight of hand to slip the ball inside to Lomax.
Richardson converted sending the game into a drop-goal frenzy, James Roby charged down Roberts attempts before Richardson and Stefan Ratchford also failed.
Yet the winner came as Saints received a penalty 60m out as Richardson showed incredible composure to slot over the goal as the hooter sounded.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Bidded as ‘The entertainers’ this season, St. Helens unusually looked void of ideas in attack. However, often a hallmark of champion sides is winning ugly when it matters.
The outcome of tonight’s match wasn’t vital but to be involved in games like this can only help what is a relatively young squad prepare for the crunch matches coming up in the Super 8’s
In terms of winning ugly, it doesn’t get much uglier than leading for zero minutes in the eighty before winning the game after the hooter.
Wolves show their bite
It’s always your year cried out from the St. Helens faithful as the Wolves lead diminished, yet Warrington showed signs that they cannot be counted out just yet.
Tyrone Roberts looked to be more settled than recent weeks causing issues with his kicking game, while Josh Charnley and Tom Lineham threatened out wide.
Their speed in defence stunted the Saints attack while Chris Hill lead the side forward. If the Wolves can continue their performances and Roberts can grow his influence the Wolves could be set for a shot at the Grand Final.
Man Of The Match- Jonny Lomax
Amongst the superstars of this St. Helens team, Lomax has come into his own at the stand-off position. Moved around from winger to fullback, to the halves Lomax has finally settled and is playing the best rugby of his career.
Besides his try Warrington kept a close eye on Ben Barba while Danny Richardson struggled until his winning moment, this left a gap for someone to stand up and inspire the Saints.
Lomax was one of few Saints players that looked dangerous, jinking in and out of tackles threatening a half-break whenever he had the ball he asked questions of the Wolves defence and crossed for a well-earned try.
St. Helens -14
Tries: Barba, Lomax.
Goals: Richardson (x3)
Drop Goals: n/a
Warrington Wolves- 12
Goals: Roberts (x4)
Drop Goals: n/a