Wilkin wows to down Wolves

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Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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St Helens captain Jon Wilkin inspired the Super League champions to a first home win over their near-neighbours for five years in an entertaining derby at Langtree Park.

Warrington had ended Leeds 100 per cent record in toppling them from top spot in their last match but they could not repeat the feat against a Saints side that for an hour played like champions.

Wilkin, once more revelling in his role of makeshift scrum-half, was the architect of a superb 32-24 victory, Saints’ sixth out of six so far in their title defence, scoring one try and setting up two others to put his side into an 18-6 half-time lead.

St Helens’ victory was based on their aggressive forward display but some of the shine was taken away by the loss of outstanding second rower Joe Greenwood with a suspected broken arm.

Warrington carved out the first scoring chance of a frantic opening, with centre Ryan Atkins breaking out of his own 20-metre area to give winger Kevin Penny a sniff of the try line but Saints scrambled superbly to keep it intact.

It was end-to-end football, with Wolves stand-off Chris Bridge unable to finish off a clean break by Stefan Ratchford and St Helens left winger Adam Swift twice bundled into touch before Greenwood broke the deadlock on 17 minutes.

He maintained his impressive start to the year by taking Wilkin’s short pass to crash over for his fourth try of the campaign and Travis Burns kicked the first of his six goals.

The champions were clearly winning the physical battle but the visitors demonstrated their potency on 24 minutes when hooker Daryl Clark dummied his way over from dummy half after prop Ashton Sims had been hauled down short of the line.

Ratchford’s goal levelled the scores but Saints, with hooker James Roby making a belated return to the side from the bench, struck twice in the last 12 minutes of the first half to establish control.

Wilkin fortuitously scored the first, taking advantage of a kind bounce by regathering the ball after centre Jordan Turner had twice kicked ahead and then produced a sublime cut-out pass to get Swift over.

Burns’ conversions made it 18-6 at the break and he attempted to extend the lead with a 40-metre penalty early in the second half but was off target for the first time.

Warrington pulled a try back on 48 minutes through replacement hooker Mick Higham, who shot through a gap in the home defence from dummy half to touch down, with Gareth O’Brien adding the goal to cut the gap to just six points.

However, Saints were unmoved and scored their fourth try six minutes later through forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, who took three defenders over the line with him.

St Helens suffered a blow when the outstanding Greenwood went off on the hour and they survived a scare when Penny produced a spectacular dive at the corner only for slow-motion replays showed he touched the ball down on the touch-in-goal line.

Saints looked to have wrapped up the win when second rower Atelea Vea charged 60 metres after picking up a loose ball to set up the position for Roby to get right winger Tom Makinson over at the corner.

Burns’ touchline conversion put his side 18 points clear but the champions were given a late fright when the visitors scored two tries in the last 11 minutes.

Bridge gained possession from a charge-down to send Penny away for a deserved try and prop Chris Hill romped over from close range, with O’Brien adding both goals.

However, Burns had the final say with a last-minute penalty to seal a notable success.

Published: Thursday 19th March 2015 by The News Editor

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