Disappointment for St Helens as they slip to defeat at Warrington

Jack Welsby is caught by Josh Charnley. Picture: SWPix
Jack Welsby is caught by Josh Charnley. Picture: SWPix

Warrington snuffed out reigning champions St Helens with a 19-0 victory in the second round of the Betfred Super League.

The Wolves, who showed much promise in their opening defeat at Wigan, shrugged off the absence of suspended skipper Chris Hill to inflict a first defeat on new Saints coach Kristian Woolf.

It was also the first time St Helens have been nilled since they lost 25-0 to Wigan at the DW Stadium in August 2016.

So impressive in their opening win over Salford, the patched-up champions were virtually unrecognisable as they produced an uncharacteristic, error-strewn performance that will do little to worry Sydney Roosters just a fortnight out from the World Club Challenge.

Already without five members of their Grand Final-winning team, they lost England prop Alex Walmsley in the warm-up and centre Mark Percival 90 seconds into the second half.

Full-back Lachlan Coote was particularly sorely missed, with 18-year-old Jack Welsby struggling to match his high standards, in stark comparison to Warrington's rookie full-back, Matty Ashton, who caught the eye with a superb home debut.

Saints spurned an early chance to kick a penalty but Warrington opted to take any points on offer and Stefan Ratchford gave them a 19th-minute 2-0 lead.,

And, after a close-fought opening, the home side bossed the second quarter to open up a healthy 13-0 advantage by the break.

Lively hooker Daryl Clark was held up over the line but made amends shortly afterwards by catching the Saints defenders napping around the ruck to snaffle the game's first try.

That followed a clean break by the exciting Ashton on only his second Super League appearance, marred only by a rash decision to pass off the ground when tackled by Jonny Lomax.

While the Wolves were full of penetrative running, Saints were all fingers and thumbs and handling errors by Welsby, Kevin Naiqama and Percival were ruthlessly punished by their hungry opponents.

When Naiqama hesitated following another probing kick from Ratchford, the ball was palmed back for winger Tom Linehan to produce a strong finish for Warrington's second try, despite a hint of a knock-on in the move.

Ratchford's touchline conversion doubled his side's lead and Blake Austin made it 13-0 with a drop goal on the stroke of half-time.

Woolf was forced to reshuffle his side after losing Percival but they created the first opening of the second half as Naiqama raced for the corner before Ratchford came across to bundle him into touch.

It proved to be the last chance for St Helens to work their way back into the contest for Warrington immediately worked their way upfield, forced a drop-out and created an overlap for winger Josh Charnley to score their third try.

Ratchford then wrapped up the scoring with a long-range penalty, with Lomax denied a late consolation try.