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Super League: St Helens win despite Bradford Bulls fightback
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St Helens held off a second-half fightback to secure a 30-18 victory over Bradford at Langtree Park and climb back into Super League's play-off places.
Tries from Willie Manu, Tommy Makinson, Sia Soliola, Josh Jones and Jon Wilkin gave Saints only their second win in eight league matches.
Trailing 24-6 shortly after the interval, the Bulls struck twice in 10 minutes to set up a tense finish, but Wilkin scored the clincher 10 minutes from the end.
Saints were boosted by the return of Jonny Lomax from a three-month injury lay-off, but it was hooker James Roby who was the standout performer on his first start for three months.
Saints started well and only a last-ditch tackle from winger Michael Platt after seven minutes prevented Makinson from opening the scoring.
But there was no stopping the elusive Manu three minutes later when he powered his way to the line, while Lomax made his first significant contribution when combining with centre Jordan Turner to get Makinson over at the corner.
Gareth O'Brien, making his home debut as part of his loan spell from Warrington, landed both conversions, the second from the touchline to make it 12-0.
Bradford eventually got a toehold in the game and pulled a try back on 29 minutes when full-back Brett Kearney took prop Adam Sidlow's one-handed offload near the line to touch down, with Luke Gale tagging on the goal.
And Soliola added a third try after taking Wilkin's pass on the last tackle, with Jones scoring St Helens' fourth five minutes into the second half after sprinting 60 metres to the line.
O'Brien maintained his perfect record by kicking his fourth goal to stretch his side's lead to 24-6, but the Bulls, who gave a debut to 18-year-old back rower Oliver Roberts, never lost hope and scored two more tries to set up an exciting finish.
Centre Matty Blythe took Kearney's pass to cross on 57 minutes before right winger Elliot Kear collected Gale's high kick to touch down at the corner.
Gale converted both to cut the gap to just six points but Roby, brought off on 59 minutes for a well-earned rest, returned in time to get Wilkin over for the decisive try and O'Brien kicked his fifth goal.
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First Utility Super League Table
|5||Hull K R||0||0|
|7||Salford Red Devils||0||0|
|First Utility Super League|
|Thursday 5th February|
|20:00||Widnes vs Wigan|
|Friday 6th February|
|20:00||St Helens vs Catalans Dragons|
|Saturday 7th February|
|15:00||Warrington vs Salford|
|Sunday 8th February|
|15:00||Huddersfield vs Hull|
|15:00||Hull K R vs Leeds|
|15:30||Castleford vs Wakefield|
|Thursday 12th February|
|20:00||Salford vs St Helens|
|Friday 13th February|
|20:00||Hull vs Warrington|
|20:00||Leeds vs Widnes|
|20:00||Wigan vs Huddersfield|
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