Warrington Wolves 10-21 St Helens: Super League leaders leave it late to snatch win
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 29/06/19 7:21am
Late tries from Luke Thompson and Alex Walmsley saw St Helens snatch a 21-10 victory over Warrington Wolves to go eight points clear at the top of the Super League table.
It was a fast-paced, full-blooded first 40 minutes at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, but it produced no tries and Warrington led 4-0 at the break thanks to two penalties from Dec Patton.
The Warrington half-back added a third penalty 12 minutes into the second half, but league leaders Saints hit back through a try from Mark Percival when the hosts had Jack Hughes in the sin-bin.
Thompson's try put St Helens into the lead for the first time with eight minutes to go and although Jake Mamo hit back for the hosts, Walmsley's score put the result beyond doubt.
Warrington opted not to give a debut to rugby union convert Luther Burrell and made two changes to the side that defeated Wakfield seven days previous as Tom Lineham returned on the win after his three-game suspension for Jack Johnson, and Lama Tasi replaced the injured Ben Murdoch-Masila.
St Helens were without the injured Zeb Taia from the side that defeated Leeds and Matty Ashworth also dropped out , with the duo replaced by Morgan Knowles and Joseph Paulo.
There was an explosive start to the game when after just three minutes as a powerful charge from Wolves forward Sitaleki Akauola left Saints hooker Aaron Smith prone on the ground.
The game was halted for around five minutes while the youngster received treatment from medical staff and he was eventually carried from the field and immediately taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.
The blood-and-thunder start to the game continued and the visitors thought they had the opening try of the night when Regan Grace went over in the corner, but the winger had put on foot in touch after confirmation by the video referee.
Defences continued to dominate and it was a penalty from Patton on 14 minutes which finally broke the deadlock, and the Warrington scrum-half repeated the feat four minutes later to edge his side into a 4-0 lead.
Saints had the better of the closing stage of the half and the visitors looked to have scored through Matty Lees, only for the forward to knock on after juggling possession on his way to the line.
The start of the second half continued in a similar vein to the first, with some brutal defensive efforts from both sides keeping their line intact.
A third Patton penalty edged Warrington six points clear before the home side were reduced to 12 men for 10 minutes when Jack Hughes was sent to the sin-bin for a shoulder charge on Tommy Makinson.
Saints made their extra man tell on the hour-mark when they claimed the first try of the game as Percival benefited from a Theo Fages pass the home crowd felt was forward to score in the corner, and full-back Coote landed a magnificent touchline conversion to level matters at 6-6.
As play ebbed and flowed, it was Saints who claimed the crucial try when Mamo fumbled Jonny Lomax's bomb and forward Thompson scooped up the loose ball to score and put his side in front for the first time in the game.
Coote converted and added a drop goal to stretch the lead to 13-6, but straight from the restart Warrington regained possession for Mamo to make up for his earlier mistake to score and cut the deficit to three points with five minutes remaining.
However, Saints had the final say in a breathless finale when Walmsley crashed over from close range to seal the win three minutes from time and Coote converted and tagged on a last-second penalty to complete the win which saw Justin Holbrook's side put one hand on the League Leaders' Shield.
St Helens half-back Jonny Lomax was named man of the match and hailed the way his team-mates dug deep to secure a comeback victory.
Saints head coach Justin Holbrook was proud of the battling display he saw his side put in to overcome Warrington Wolves.
Warrington head coach Steve Price took heart from his side's display in their loss at home to St Helens.