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Yates’ verdict: Danny’s form is Magic!

Danny Richardson sprints to score a try during the Betfred Super League, Magic Weekend match at St James' Park, Newcastle
Danny Richardson sprints to score a try during the Betfred Super League, Magic Weekend match at St James' Park, Newcastle
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England coach Wayne Bennett will no doubt have watched video footage and also been kept up to date about the early season form of Saints’ half back Danny Richardson.

The 21-year-old first started to make fans sit up and take notice when he landed an ice-cool penalty to earn all-conquering Saints U19s a 22-20 victory over Wigan Warriors in the 2016 Academy Grand Final at Langtree Park (now renamed the Totally Wicked Stadium).

Since then the former Halton Hornets junior has established himself as the no.1 scrum half - keeping the vastly experienced Matty Smith in his shadows - and already fans, rather prematurely, are talking about him in the same breath as former Knowsley Road legends, Alex Murphy and current assistant coach Sean Long.

He still has a long way to go to match that iconic duo’s ability and playing record but if he is to reach that stature then the only way it can be achieved is by constantly working hard on the training ground and an ability to keep his feet firmly on the ground as the accolades from the media come thick and fast.

Self-assured Richardson is already a member of Bennett’s Knights set-up but with Castleford’s Luke Gale already ruled out of England’s mid-season international against New Zealand in the USA, what are the chances of the Widnesian being drafted into the senior squad, even if only for the experience?

He is certainly in a rich vein of form at this moment in time, topping the Super League goal scoring charts and earning star rating in Saturday’s 38-18 Magic Weekend victory over his home town club, Widnes Vikings, at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

The half back scored Saints’ first try after they had been found themselves 6-0 adrift early in the game and was also involved in helping set up other moves which resulted in tries.

It wasn’t, admittedly, one of St Helens better displays - and lacked the grandeur of a certain wedding on the same day - but it was two points in the bag for the league leaders and gives them a timely boost, if one was needed, ahead of Thursday night’s testing encounter at Castleford Tigers - a match which will be screened live by Sky TV.

Head coach Justin Holbrook said: “We were a little bit off with some of our passing and a little bit soft defensively in the first half but overall I’m happy with the win.

“People don’t give Widnes enough credit. I thought they were very unlucky not to beat Leeds in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and had they done that, it would have been a different week for us.

“Everyone had automatically given us the win which can make it hard for the players. I thought in the second half we dominated the game and we came away with a good win.”

Widnes coach Denis Betts said: “We produced a great deal of energy and effort but just lacked execution. I thought there were two really tough calls in the game. The scoreline doesn’t really indicate how close we were.

“We’ve just got to keep pushing on and these things will turn for us.”

MATCH SUMMARY

Saints tries: Richardson (8 mins), Percival (13 mins), Grace (18 and

77 mins), Barba (29 mins), Morgan (55 and 63 mins).

Goals: Richardson (8,13,18,46 and 78 mins)

Vikings -tries: Whitley (5 mins), Albert (26 mins), Keinhorst (40 mins)

Goals: Marsh ( 5, 26,40 mins).

Half-time: 22-18.

Full-time 38-18

Referee: L Moore

Teams - Vikings: 1. Rhys Hanbury; 5. Patrick Ah Van, 4. Charly

Runciman, 38. Jimmy Keinhorst, 2. Stefan Marsh; 6. Joseph Mellor, 33.

Aaron Heremaia; 25. James Chapelhow, 21. Jordan Johnstone, 19. Greg

Burke, 12. Matt Whitley, 17. Samuel Wilde, 13. Hep Cahill.

Subs: 16. Thomas Olbison, 20. Macgraff Leuluai, 23. Danny Walker, 36.

Wellington Albert.

Saints: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark

Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 14.

Luke Douglas, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11.

Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin.

Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 15. Morgan

Knowles, 20. Matty Lees.