Saints answer criticism with impressive giant-slaying win

St Helens' Lance Hohaia celebrates scoring his side's second try with Luke Walsh.
St Helens' Lance Hohaia celebrates scoring his side's second try with Luke Walsh.

Saints more than answered the stinging criticism they suffered - both internally and externally - after their far from magic performance against Warrington Wolves at the Etihad Stadium five days earlier.

On-song Huddersfield, who came to Langtree Park on Friday night brimming with confidence after a five-match winning streak, were put to the sword in emphatic fashion - victims of a highly polished all-round team display from a Saints side boasting six different try scorers on the night.

Victory, which helped Nathan Brown’s boys reclaim second spot in Super League, was also achieved in the absence of a host of players, including Jonny Lomax, Alex Walmsley, Kyle Amor, Josh Jones, Mark Percival, Adam Swift, Willie Manu and Anthony Laffranchi.

It opened the door further for youngsters, like Joe Greenwood, Anthony Walker, Greg Richards and Luke Thompson, to show their mettle alongside more established and experienced team-mates.

Hooker James Roby led from the front, often enjoying the freedom of the park on the back of excellent work from the pack, especially the ‘Smiling Assassin’ Mose Masoe.

It wasn’t a laughing matter for the Giants’ defence though as they crumbled under the sheer power of the Samoan’s surging runs.

Brown predicted earlier in the year that, when Masoe returned from injury, it would take him some time to reach his full potential - and Huddersfield will be the first to acknowledge he’s not far away!

Mr Reliable Paul Wellens also stepped up to the plate, slotting back into the full-back role in place of the injured Jonny Lomax and showing that he had lost none of the know-now in a position he had called his own for so many years.

While it would seem harsh to level any kind of criticism after such an exhilerating performance, in which all 17 played their part, the Aussie boss will no doubt have noted that on four occasions Saints lost focus and conceded within minutes of scoring.

But they were certainly fully focused in the opening exchanges - and it appeared as though they had been fed on raw meat during training, judging by their insatiable hunger for success.

Huddersfield were almost devoured in the opening 15 minutes as sizzling Saints stormed into an 18-0 lead.

Centre Gary Wheeler, back in the fold following a spell on the sidelines, grabbed the first try in the sixth minute after twice being involved in a move which cut the Giants’ defence in half.

Scrum-half Luke Walsh goaled and, after Roby’s great break led to the supporting Lance Hohaia racing in unchallenged three minutes later, the Aussie slotted over his second two-pointer.

Try number three quickly followed as Walsh sold a dummy close to the Giants’ line before sending Wellens over for his third try of the campaign before adding the extras.

Huddersfield had hardly threatened but in their first positive attack after 18 minutes reduced the deficit to 18-6 - loose forward Lance Patrick darting over and stand-off Danny Brough, who had created the opening, converting.

Undetered, Saints remained on the front foot and extended their lead in the 25th minute, thanks to a major contribution from ex-Huddersfield utility player, Matt Dawson.

Dawson, operating on the left wing, picked up a wayward pass deep inside his own half and although hauled down as the line beckoned, he picked himself up and was then on hand in the second phase of the move to plunge over from Wellens’ clever off-load.

Walsh failed for the first time with his kick but more than made amends early in the second half by delivering a telling crossfield kick which second rower Jon Wilkin read to perfection - arrowing in ahead of three defenders - and leaving his Aussie team-mate a simple fourth goal.

Huddersfield’s response was to go downfield and score almost immediately.

Saints failed to deal with Brough’s towering kick from the restart and as the ball bounced awkwardly, centre Leroy Cudjoe sent winger Ben Blackmore in.

But it failed to dent the hosts’ confidence and when Masoe blasted his way over from Roby’s off-load after 54 minutes, it was a fitting reward for the big man who had softened up the Tykes’ defence with several blockbusting runs in the build up.

Walsh’s fifth goal increased Saints’ lead to 34-10, and while second rower Brett Ferres kept Huddersfield’s points tally ticking over by scoring from a Brough grubber kick, which the latter converted, their chances of rescuing anything from the game were remote to say the least.

Those hopes more or less ended 13 minutes from time when Wheeler hacked on before claiming his second try and Walsh landed his sixth goal.

The Aussie completed Saints’ scoring with a 78th minute drop goal but not before Blackmore had cashed-in on a handling error to crash over down the right and Brough took his goal tally to three from four attempts.