Yates' verdict: Saints' hard-earned win showed real character
Crisis? What crisis? Any thoughts that Saints were heading downhill after two successive confidence-sapping defeats were answered in a most emphatic manner at Wakefield last night (Thursday).
The table-toppers, who are now moving closer to claiming the League Leaders’ Shield, didn’t have matters all their own way on a ground where they suffered their only Super League away defeat so far this season, but showed great character, resilience and no shortage of skill to pick up two hard-earned points despite being shorn of the services of Ryan Morgan, Adam Swift, Luke Thompson, Dom Peyroux and long-term absentee Alex Walmsley.
Injury-wise, it was the worse scenario coach Justin Holbrook’s outfit had faced in 2018 but any critics doubting the club’s strength in depth were shot down in flames as they condemned the hosts to their heaviest home defeat of the campaign.
Jack Ashworth, introduced as one of the first-half substitutes, was a revelation - the 23-year-old being instrumental in helping to pave the way for two of Saints’ three first-half tries which gave them a commanding 16-0 interval lead.
Man of the match Tommy Makinson grabbed a brace in trademark fashion and Jonny Lomax, in a rich vein of form at this moment in time, took his Super League try tally to 15 in 26 appearances.
Then, on a night all four substitutes made a telling contribution, Theo Fages stormed over for Saints’ fourth try on the hour mark to help restore an eight-point cushion at a time when Trinity threatened to wipe out their interval deficit.
And it didn’t end there with perennial substitute Luke Douglas celebrating his first start of the year in the initial 13 by scoring only his second try since mid-April and, ironically, that came against the same opposition on the same ground.
Finally, it was left to sharp as a needle winger Regan Grace to put the icing on the cake six minutes from time, turning on a sixpence before darting through an inviting gap and leaving a defender clutching thin air.
Saints’ celebrations as the final hooter told their own story and no one milked the applause more than two-try hero Makinson.
The wingman said: “During the past two weeks people have been saying we were on the edge and this kind of pressure can get to you.
“But a win is a win whatever the circumstances and we can go into a week’s break in a confident mood and also recharge our batteries.”
Head coach Justin Holbrook added: “We knew how hard it is to come here and get a win so I was very pleased by the outcome.
“It was nip and tuck and a really good start to the game for both sides. There was not much in it so to come in leading 16-0 at half-time was fantastic. It was important to make a good start unlike the previous
two games when we’ve not done ourselves justice.
“Tonight we were fully concentrated, and ready to play.”
Tries: Wood (44 mins), Pauli (57), Tupou (65)
Goals: Hampshire (45 and 58)
Tries: Makinson (26 and 34), Lomax (31), Fages (60), Douglas (70), Grace (74).
Conversions: Richardson (27, 32,61,71, 75 and 79).
Referee: Liam Moore
Teams - Trinity: 21. Max Jowitt; 5. Ben Jones-Bishop, 4. Reece Lyne, 3. Bill Tupou, 2. Tom Johnstone; 6. Jacob Miller, 25. Ryan Hampshire; 8. David Fifita, 13. Tyler Randell, 10. Anthony England, 11. Matty Ashurst, 19. James Batchelor, 14. Justin Horo. Subs: 9. Kyle Wood, 15. Pauli Pauli, 16. Tinirau Arona, 17. Craig Huby.
Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 30. Matty Costello, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 11. Zeb Taia, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 12. Jon Wilkin, 20. Matty Lees, 21. Jack Ashworth.