Saints produced a late win in Perpignan to ease the pressure on head coach Keiron Cunningham as they squeezed home 28-24 against Catalans Dragons.
Saints looked to be heading for their fourth defeat in a row until a piece of magic from Perpignan-born Theo Fages sent Jack Owens over to score the match- winning try eight minutes from time.
Both sides headed into the game on the back of losses last weekend, Catalans not only losing to Leeds Rhinos but also losing the influential Greg Bird to injury. Saints were looking to end a three-match losing run and were looking to former Dragon Zeb Taia to help them earn their second win of the season.
A free-flowing first half saw 40 points scored as the sides traded tries.
Saints opened the scoring in the second minute, Adam Swift racing over in the left corner after a flowing move involving Fages, Jon Wilkin, Tommy Makinson and Mark Percival, who added added the conversion from the touchline.
Then Richie Myler and Luke Walsh combined to send the ball to the Catalans right, Thomas Bosc dummying and racing over to score. Walsh’s conversion levelled the scores at 6-6.
St Helens were allowed to retake the lead on the back of a penalty. The combination of Fages, Wilkin and Makinson down the Saints left again paid dividends as they sent Percival away to score in the left corner but he missed the conversion of his own try.
On the quarter hour Julian Bousquet levelled the scores once again as Remi Casty and Sam Moa laid a platform. Myler and Walsh again combined to send Bouquet away to score to the left of the posts. Walsh added the conversion to give the hosts a 12-10 lead.
Four minutes later St Helens had again retook the lead when James Roby’s wide ball from the acting half close to the Catalans line allowed Fages to draw the cover Catalans defence and send Ryan Morgan over to score his second try of the season. Percival added the conversion from the right hand side to see Saints lead 16-12.
St Helens thought they had extended their lead through Adam Swift directly from the restart but the video referee ruled out his effort. Catalans also had a try ruled out by the video official, Myler’s solo effort on the half hour chalked off for an earlier obstruction.
From the resulting penalty, St Helens marched up field thanks to good work from Taia and Percival.
A short ball from Roby saw Adam Walker charge over under the posts for his first try for St Helens. Percival added the simple conversion and extended the Saints’ lead to 10 points.
With five minutes remaining in the half Iain Thornley latched onto another flowing move involving Myler and Walsh.
Walsh’s wide pass to Thornley saw the former Hull KR centre score his first try for the club in the left corner. Walsh added the touchline conversion to take the score to 22-18.
Thornley thought he had scored a second in the last play of the first half, his acrobatic effort ruled out for putting his foot on the sideline.
Catalans edged themselves in front seven minutes into the second half as a Wilkin error gifted them field position and Paul Aiton dummied his way over the line to score to the left of the posts. Walsh added the conversion to give the home-side a two-point lead.
But with eight minutes remaining St Helens scored what proved to be the match-winning try.
Fages attacked down the right hand side, collecting Morgan’s pass then producing a superb offload to send Owens over to score. Percival added the conversion to give the visitors a 28-24 win.