St Helens continued their excellent recent run of results by seeing off Wakefield for their fifth win in a row.
Nathan Brown’s men are running into form at the right time of the season and they moved back into fifth in the Super League after tries from Anthony Laffranchi, Adam Swift, the returning Sia Soliola, Jonny Lomax and Lance Hohaia helped them to victory at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
They were far from convincing, however, and Reece Lyne and Kyle Amor’s tries - along with Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook being sent to the sin bin in the closing stages - gave Wakefield a sniff of victory.
The Wildcats, who will finish outside the play-off places this season, closed the gap to eight points when Amor’s try was converted, but as they chased the game, they left holes in their defence and Hohaia capitalised to hand the hosts a fifth consecutive defeat.
They made three changes from last weekend’s defeat against Warrington, with injured centre Frankie Mariano, who had scored a try in each of his last five matches, prop Andy Raleigh and second-rower Ali Lauitiiti replaced by Danny Washbrook, Justin Poore and Taulima Tautai.
But a fumble from Tautai gave an unchanged Saints side the advantage straight from the kick-off.
And the visitors proved they were not in a charitable mood as McCarthy-Scarsbrook teed up Laffranchi to bulldoze his way over underneath the posts from the first set of six.
Saints continued to tighten the screw from the restart, which was rewarded in the seventh minute when a flowing passing move along the left ended with Swift crossing in the corner.
But Saints, who had won six of their last seven matches before today, took their foot off the gas and knock-ons from full-back Jonny Lomax and substitute prop Anthony Walker gave Wakefield the chance to narrow the deficit.
Several handling errors cost them dear, however, and Saints centre Soliola marked his first appearance in over two months with his side’s third try on the half-hour.
The New Zealander had been out of action since injuring his foot on Exiles duty, but came to the fore today by bundling his way over the whitewash.
Lomax added his second conversion to put Saints on the front foot, but an outstanding solo try from Lyne gave Wakefield some momentum heading into the second half.
The centre’s quick footwork allowed him to skip past opposite number Tom Makinson and he then sprinted 70 metres to cross in the left corner.
Any hopes the Wildcats had of overturning a 16-6 half-time deficit were dented when Lomax went over for Saints in the 47th minute after racing on to Makinson’s kick down the right wing.
The 22-year-old failed with his conversion attempt and Saints, not for the first time today, allowed their performance levels to drop.
Loose forward McCarthy-Scarsbrook was sent to the sin bin 16 minutes from time and the pressure finally told as Amor managed to go over between the posts.
Lee Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to eight points, but the game was effectively up in the 72nd minute when, against the run of play, Lomax freed Hohaia and he touched down unopposed.