Four talking points from St Helens’ crucial win over Catalans Dragons at Langtree Park in the second round of fixtures in the Super 8’s.
Swiftly does it
Adam Swift led St Helens to a crucial victory at Langtree Park on Friday night, as they saw off Catalans Dragons 39-16. The wide man picked up a first half hat-trick with his first two scores coming from centre Mark Percival, who left the field with an injury in the first period, before a brilliant kick from Jordan Turner handed him his third as they targeted the injured Todd Carney.
His fourth signalled the start of a dominant second 40 as he dove over in the corner, and while the Dragons ran out of troops the home side kept their foot on the throat of their opponents. They will be relieved to have finally got one over on their French counterparts, having lost their last four meetings, including both regular season games in 2016.
St Helens’ spine at their best
Saints have now won seven games on the spin, a run which has saw them climb into the top four and consolidate their place in the play-off places. Influential players such as Turner, Luke Walsh and Jonny Lomax have stood up in that period and have been key in their rise in form. Turner has took on the role of halfback admirably and came up with a great play to send Swift over for his hat-trick try, and his partner Walsh may have been sinbinned for a dangerous tackle however he had complete control of the game in the 70 minutes he was on the field. Lomax was also brilliant, as he came up with an outstanding effort to deny Catalans a 40/20, and from the resulting set Jack Owens scored from a clever kick to the corner from Walsh.
Another player who deserves a mention is Joe Greenwood, as the backrower leads by example week after week with his tireless defence and prolific attacking play. He wrapped up the game with the last score of the contest, making it 11 tries this season, and he has to be in Wayne Bennett’s thoughts for an England call up at the end of the year.
Dragons battered and bruised
It was a tough night for Laurent Frayssinous’ side, as they matched their opponents for the opening 40 before a combination of injuries and indiscipline ended their hopes of a second win at Langtree Park this season. Todd Carney didn’t make it out for the second half, and spent the majority of the first period on one leg, as they also lost Jodie Broughton in the first half. Justin Horo was helped from the field in the second half, and as they gave away penalty after penalty their hopes of a win faded away.
They now have a massive task if they are to give themselves a shot of making the showpiece final at Old Trafford in October. Catalans have now lost six of their last seven and after being early season favourites to compete for the crown of Super League Champions, they are now more likely to be ending their season after round seven of the Super 8’s.
Four point cushion
In the build-up to this clash, which pitted fourth against fifth, pundits were claiming that a win for Saints would end the race for the top four. After outclassing the Dragons they are now four points clear of their nearest rivals, and with only five games remaining it would take a terrible run in for St Helens to throw away that advantage. Add to that the fact that Catalans Dragons are out of form and running out of bodies, the four semi-final spots seem to be confirmed. Saints are picking up form at the business end of the season, and if they can continue this form into the play-offs they could repeat their title winning heroics from the 2014 season.
St Helens 39
Tries: Adam Swift 4, Jack Owens, Joe Greenwood
Goals: Luke Walsh 6, Jack Owens 1
Field goal: Luke Walsh
Catalans Dragons 16
Tries: Dave Taylor, Jason Baitieri, Vincent Duport
Goals: Lucas Albert 2
|McManus Dr, Saint Helens, Merseyside WA9, UK|