A hat-trick a piece from Kevin Naiqama and Tommy Makinson secured a hard fought 42-26 win over Hull Kingston Rovers at the KCOM Craven Park. Here’s our verdict..
A tight opening affair saw both defences standing firm, but it was Rovers who produced the first try after a repeat set on Saints line resulted in Danny Addy picking the ball up from dummy half and crashing over from close range.
Rovers were in again on the very next set after a break on the right edge allowed Craig Hall to kick long and Ryan Shaw got to the ball first to touch down giving Rovers a 12-0 lead with 13 minutes played.
Saints hit back after winning back to back penalties on the Rovers line. The ball was fed wide right for Dom Peyroux to put Naiqama through the gap to score his first.
From the kick off Rovers won the ball back and won a penalty which they converted and extended their lead to 14-6 with 20 minutes gone.
In a explosive following 10 minutes Saints were in again after an excellent offload from Alex Walmsley which kept the move alive before Makinson was set free down the line and he stepped back inside the covering defenders to score.
Saints were in again in the closing minutes of the first half after a cut-out pass from Jonny Lomax which sent Makinson away down the line and he fed the ball back inside for Naiqama to score his second to send his team in the lead at half time.
Rovers started the second half like they did the first and they took advantage as Jimmy Keinhorst crashed over in the corner.
It didn’t take Saints long to hit back mind as after an excellent kick off from Coote forced a goal line drop out, Saints were in prime position and Lomax latched onto a fantastic offload from Peyroux to put Saints back ahead.
Seconds later Saints were in again and this try was down to a bit of individual brilliance from the England international and golden boot winner Makinson.
The winger took the ball inside his own 20 meters, found the gap in the defensive line and ran 70 meters to score leaving Hall trailing behind.
To their credit, Rovers came straight back at Saints and were rewarded when a flowing move on their left edge resulted in Will Oakes scoring in the corner bringing them back within two points.
But two quick fire tries from Naiqama and Makinson completed the duo’s hat-tricks and put the game beyond doubt with 10 minutes to play.
The game finished with a spectacular Regan Grace try as the flying winger burst through the line to run 70 metres to score with a flying finish right in front of the travelling Saints fans.
Another interesting encounter
As said in the match preview, the fixture being these two sides was anticipated to be a high-scoring affair as 68 points were scored between the two teams.
The match was similar to their previous encounter when Rovers nearly scared Saints with a win. And they did so today when they took the lead.
But Saints showed the strength and character that has cemented them in their position as league leaders.
The Red Robins once again conceded too many tries and conversions and it means their losing run will continue for just a little longer.
These points will come from poor defending which has summed up their season as the league’s highest tackles misses.
A Worthy Performance
Saints displayed the quality in which they possess as their centre and winger Kevin Naiqama and Tommy Makinson added three tries to their season tallies.
It also adds to the team’s tally as they remain the league’s highest try scorers. Scoring 79 tries so far, with their league rivals Warrington Wolves on 77.
Taking a Break
The Super League will take a break now as the teams will enter the Challenge Cup competition and begin their journey to Wembley.
Both teams will travel across the M62 with Rovers facing Salford Red Devils and Saints will play Huddersfield Giants.
Hull KR + 26
Tries: Addy (8), Shaw (11), Keinhorst (44) Oakes (60)
Goals: Shaw (5)
Drop Goals: n/a
Saints + 42
Tries: Makinson (30,51,68) Naiqama (17,37,64) Lomax (48) Grace (79).
Goals: Coote (5)
Drop Goals: n/a
Hull KR: Hall, Shaw, Vaivai, Crooks, Oakes; McGuire, Drinkwater; Mulhern, Addy, Maria, Linnett, Keinhorst, Lawler.
Interchanges: Lunt, Hauraki, Atkin, Rooks.
Saints: Coote, Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Lees, Roby, Walmsley, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles.
Interchanges: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Welsby.