Theo Fages led the way as St Helens toppled First Utility Super League leaders Warrington with a sixth successive win in gripping fashion at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Fages was in irrepressible form as Saints fought back from 10-0 down and withstood a late fightback for a 25-22 victory that condemned their hosts to a first home defeat of the season and moved themselves to within four points of the table-toppers.
Warrington actually outscored their visitors by four tries to three, but they managed just one conversion and spurned the last kick of the match in a bid to save time as they went in vain for a match-winning score.
It was a victory against the odds, with Keiron Cunningham’s men missing eight front-line players through injury, and 20-year-old second rower Jack Ashworth was among their try-scorers on only his second Super League appearance.
Cunningham also gave a debut to 19-year-old winger Jake Spedding in the absence of an entire threequarter line, while Warrington had the luxury of being able to slot England utility back Stefan Ratchford in at scrum-half in place of an injured Chris Sandow.
Warrington had blown Wigan away in the first half of their previous game and they looked set to stage a repeat after storming into a 10-0 lead inside 11 minutes.
Ratchford’s inch-perfect high kick to the corner was plucked out of the air by winger Kevin Penny for the first try and prop Ashton Sims’ short pass got centre Ryan Atkins crashing through the Saints defensive line for the second.
Veteran England forward Ben Westwood, a surprise choice as marksman, added one conversion to make it 10-0, but Saints emerged from their early lethargy in impressive fashion to virtually dominate the rest of the first half, largely through the prompting of stand-off Fages, a close-season signing from Salford who has had to wait for his big chance at his new club.
Prop Kyle Amor proved unstoppable from 10 metres out after supporting a jinking run from full-back Shannon McDonnell and Fages’ short pass got Ashworth charging over for Saints’ second try.
Luke Walsh converted both to edge his side into a 12-10 lead and they had chances to increase it before a break from deep inside his own half by Penny set up the position for Ben Currie, a second rower playing at centre in the absence of Rhys Evans, to force his way over for a solo try - his 10th of the season - in the final act of the first half.
Undeterred, Saints continued to look the more lively side after the break and it was no surprise when they regained the lead, another accurate pass from Fages this time getting centre Matty Dawson over for their third try.
The Wolves were forced into some desperate defence to keep the visitors at bay as the game developed into a war of attrition.
St Helens captain Jon Wilkin was forced off on 64 minutes after taking a knock to the head, an incident that prompted referee Ben Thaler to place Atkins on report, and Walsh kicked the resulting penalty to edge his side further ahead.
Saints looked to have secured the points when substitute Morgan Knowles pounced for a third try after Walsh’s grubber kick had eluded full-back Matty Russell, with Walsh adding the goal and slotting over a drop goal eight minutes from the end.
That extra point was to prove crucial as Currie sent Penny over for his second try a minute later.
Had Kurt Gidley added the goal, the Wolves would have been within a score, but he was just wide and Tom Lineham’s try two minutes from the end proved too little too late as Saints deservedly hung on for the win.