St Helens 38 Wakefield 12

Chris Flannery charges in for another try
Chris Flannery charges in for another try

SAINTS were left reflecting on the two tries they conceded rather than the eight plundered at the expense of struggling Wakefield at Langtree Park on Friday night.

Both could – and should – have been avoided, denying them the opportunity to nil the opposition for a third consecutive week.

It may seem harsh to dwell on a couple of self-inflicted wounds on a night Saints notched their seven victory in eight league and cup outings since stand-in boss Mike Rush and his assistant coach, Keiron Cunningham, took charge of team affairs but they didn’t go unnoticed.

Rush, always striving for perfection from his players, said: “We were happy with the result but even with the two tries we conceded there is still room for improvement.”

He added: “At the same time we are finding a little bit of form, playing in the manner we want and everything is going okay at this moment in time.”

It was also a special night for Chris Flannery, who claimed his first Super League hat-trick, and with fellow second rower Sia Soliola crossing twice, it meant that five of the tries had come from forwards, more accustomed to setting up chances than scoring them.

Rush said: “It was great to see the forwards among the tries but with a player as quick as James Roby at hooker it doesn’t surprise me.

“He creates space for others, and although I might be biased, I reckon he is already a genuine contender for the Man of Steel award. He is the most consistent player in Super League week-in, week-out.”

Saints, who had scored 178 points in their three previous fixtures, looked on course for another massive win when they roared in front after only six minutes. Flannery set the scoreboard ticking over after accepting a Paul Wellens’ pass and darting through a gap in the Trinity defence.

Jonny Lomax goaled but the visitors, who had made a spirited start, bounced back four minutes later when Francis Meli failed to defuse a Matt Wildie bomb and presented Dean Collis with a gift-wrapped try.

Paul Sykes’ conversion brought the scores level and for a spell Trinity matched Saints blow-for-blow in what was developing into a low key encounter, punctuated by too many penalties.

Soliola injected some much-needed life into the game when he struck twice in the 22nd and 28th minutes – the first due to his sheer strength, and the second following a blistering turn of pace down the left flank as he latched on to Roby’s slick offload.

Lomax slotted over one of his two goal attempts to give Saints a 16-6 lead, and just before the break the scrum-half notched a further six points by dummying his way over and adding the extras.

It turned the second half into little more than a stroll in the park, and two early tries extinguished any remote hopes the visitors had of staging a comeback.

Lomax’s astute grubber kick led to Flannery crashing over and then the Aussie completed his hat-trick as he latched on to Roby’s switch pass.

Tom Makinson joined the scoring spree by racing over from Michael Shenton’s pass after a quality handling move had ripped Trinity apart, and then Roby brought the crowd to their feet with a near full-length-of-field interception try.

To their credit, Wakefield kept plugging away and were rewarded in the 72nd minute when Saints gave away a penalty and were marched closer to their own line due to back-chat.

It allowed Peter Fox to take full advantage of the situation, punishing their indiscipline by crossing the whitewash and leaving Sykes to strike a comfortable goal.