SAINTS got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 11-8 victory over Huddersfield in a bruising encounter at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Saints began the game six points off the pace at the top of Super League following Leeds’ win at Salford but got their campaign back on track thanks to a performance full of guts and determination.
There was nothing to separate the two teams at the end of an uninspiring first half after Leroy Cudjoe’s fourth-minute try and a Danny Brough penalty were cancelled out by Jordan Turner’s late converted effort.
Penalties came thick and fast at the start of the second period as both sides struggled to keep their cool, with two successful efforts from Travis Burns sandwiching another Brough two-pointer, which came after Mose Masoe was sin-binned.
Luke Walsh, making his first appearance since last July, had nudged Saints ahead with a cool drop goal and he joined his team-mates in celebrating the club’s first league victory at Huddersfield since 2010 upon the final hooter.
Brough put Saints on the back foot almost immediately with a high, swirling kick which Lance Hohaia failed to handle before dabbing in behind the visiting defence and forcing a repeat set.
The Giants stand-off predictably laid on the first try of the afternoon, although there was nothing special about the play as he simply shifted the ball right to Cudjoe, who needed only minimal footwork to beat Turner and James Wilkin close to the line.
Tom Makinson blew a perfect chance to hit back for the visitors when he fumbled the ball over the line after Wilkin’s towering kick had hit the crossbar and sat up nicely for him.
Brough was terrorising St Helens with his kicking game and the frustration became too much for Wilkin as he caught Scott Grix and Jack Hughes with high shots minutes apart.
Tensions were rising and threatened to boil over when an altercation between Kyle Amor and Brough saw both sets of players rush in. Amor was adjudged to have been the guilty party and Brough happily took the two points on offer.
Saints enjoyed a spell of pressure on the back of James Roby’s 40-20 but came away empty-handed after Makinson spilled Wilkin’s high kick with the line at his mercy.
Brough was the only Huddersfield player causing St Helens any trouble in defence and he thought he had unlocked the champions when, after forcing a repeat set, he sent an unorthodox pass out to Jermaine McGillvary, only for the winger to grass it.
Another mistake, this time by Aaron Murphy as he spilled Wilkin’s kick under no pressure, let Saints back into the match. Turner picked Brough out in defence and proved too strong as he powered his way over for his eighth try of the season.
The match became increasingly niggly at the start of the second half as referee James Child struggled to control the players.
Wilkin was hit late by Ukuma Ta’ai before Hohaia won a penalty for interference. Travis Burns opted to go for goal but saw his effort drift wide.
The Saints stand-off made no mistake when the visitors were awarded yet another penalty, with his successful kick coinciding with the introduction of Walsh.
Brough soon brought Huddersfield back level when he slotted over a two-pointer after Masoe had been sin-binned for a late hit on Jamie Ellis.
Walsh showed what Saints fans had been missing when he landed a 30-metre drop goal before a Burns penalty gave the away side a three-point cushion.
Huddersfield piled pressure on the St Helens line as the clock ticked down but they knew the game was up when McGillvary was unable to take in Brough’s grubber kick.