Yates’ verdict: Late scares but fans lift Saints to victory

Regan Grace runs in to score his side's opening try of the game against Wakefield
Regan Grace runs in to score his side's opening try of the game against Wakefield
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A mere 13 seconds remained on the scoreboard clock when Saints seized possession deep in the Wakefield half and the way it was greeted by the home fans told its own poignant story.

The cheers were more in sheer relief than anything else, knowing that a formidable challenge from their West Yorkshire visitors had finally been extinguished.

Justin Holbrook’s outfit were given an almighty scare before emerging 34-30 victors at the end of an e-rated Friday night home fixture - exhilarating, exciting and entertaining.

It ebbed and flowed throughout a compelling 80 minute in which Saints looked to be on course for a runaway win after establishing a 20-6 interval lead, only to be rocked by a stunning out-of-the blue three-try Trinity broadside and

finding themselves staring defeat in the face.

But they retaliated like a wounded animal to clinch both points in a drama-filled finale in which Trinity’s last-gasp try prolonged the outcome until the hooter sounded and also maintained their six point lead at the top of the Betfred Super League with only four matches remaining of the regular season.

Neither should the part the sun-kissed home fans played in Saints’ eighth successive league win of the campaign be ignored when the chips were down. They raised the decibels in the stadium and the players responded in similar fashion to put the icing on the cake.

The only blot on the landscape was the withdrawal of full back Ben Barba during the second half after a below-par performance by his normal high standard but without wanting to make excuses boss Holbrook revealed the Super League’s top try scorer had exacerbated a knee injury which he had been carrying for a number of weeks.

The St Helens boss said:”’He copped a knock just before half-time and in hindsight I should have taken him off but we wanted to see if he would be OK to continue.

“He has been struggling with a knee problem for several weeks and we will have to see how he reacts to the injury in training and decide if he will be fit to face Widnes Vikings on Friday.”

But despite the close call Holbrook was satisfied the display.

He said: “I was really delighted by the result. To give Wakefield that much ball in the second half, other sides may have felt it was not going to be their night but we hung on and came through the other side with a victory.

“In the first half, however, I felt we were in total control l and unlucky with other chances and could have been 30 up.”

Match summary:

Saints:

Tries: Grace (13, 65 mins), Lomax (25), Richardson (34), Roby (68), Taia (72)

Conversions: Richardson (13,25,34,40,68)

Trinity:

Tries: Johnstone (18,61), Hampshire (43), Miller (52),, Caton-Brown (55),

Lyne (79).

Conversions: Finn (18,43,52)

Half-time: 20-6

Full-time 34-30

Referee: James Child

Attendance 10,008

Teams

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,

Trinity: 25. Ryan Hampshire; 24. Mason Caton-Brown, 3. Bill Tupou, 4. Reece Lyne, 2. Tom Johnstone; 6. Jacob Miller, 7. Liam Finn; 10. Anthony England, 13. Tyler Randell, 8. David Fifita, 19. James Batchelor, 11. Matty Ashurst, 16. Tinirau Arona. Subs: 9. Kyle Wood, 15. Pauli Pauli, 20. Keegan Hirst, 23. Chris Annakin.