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Super League: Warrington make most of fast start to beat St Helens
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Warrington kept alive their slim hopes of finishing the Super League season on top of the table with a 29-16 win over St Helens at Langtree Park.
Perhaps still smarting from their shock home loss to Widnes last time out, the Wolves scored four tries in the opening 24 minutes to build up a healthy cushion against their rivals.
Saints recovered from such a disastrous start to cross twice themselves before the break and when Jonny Lomax converted his own try on 55 minutes, it seemed the hosts would go on and complete a remarkable comeback.
However Warrington dug deep, Lee Briers slotting over a drop goal before Garreth Carvell grabbed a late try to make the final score look comfortable - it had been anything but
The result means Huddersfield have to wait a little longer to secure the League Leaders Shield - a win over Wakefield at home on Sunday would secure the Giants the top seeding in the play-offs and also see them end the campaign at the summit for the first time in 81 years.
Saints, who had won five on the spin going into the contest, will look back with regret on a sluggish start.
Joel Monaghan showed his finishing abilities to catch and convert a Briers chip into the right corner to break the deadlock before Rhys Evans marked his first appearance since Good Friday by sliding over on the left-hand side.
Another Briers kick led to Micky Higham scoring a third try for the Wolves, the hooker ripping the ball free from Lomax and then catching it as he fell over towards the turf.
Evans had a second try chalked off before a St Helens error put Warrington in prime position again, Trent Waterhouse making the most of a fortunate bounce off his own thigh after Simon Grix's grubber had struck a home player and rebounded into the Australian's path.
Stefan Ratchford added three conversions and at that stage Tony Smith's side looked on course for a repeat of their 48-22 mauling of the same opponents at Magic Weekend back in May.
Yet Saints - who are already certain to finish outside the top three for the first time in nine seasons - came charging back, Jordan Turner plunging over to get them on the scoreboard before Andrew Swift dived in at the left corner just prior to the half-time interval.
They then camped out inside Warrington's territory at the start of the second half, and eventually, after several close calls, an offload by Willie Manu gave Lomax enough space.
He also added the extras to cut the gap to six, thought that would prove to be as close as St Helens would get.
Briers scuffed over the 73rd drop goal for the Wolves to give them some breathing space and Carvell rounded out the scoring when he showed tremendous athleticism to dive over Lomax and ground a grubber as the full-back waited for it to run dead.
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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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