A dogged performance from St Helens saw them continue their winning streak to eight games since post lockdown, after seeing off Wakefield Trinity on Friday evening.
In what was a thoroughly entertaining affair, a strong start from the hosts saw them take the lead eight minutes into the contest through Alex Walker, before doubling their lead 10 minutes later when Craig Kopczak fored his way over the line.
With both tries being converted by the outstanding Hampshire, Trinity had a well deserved 12 point lead just 20 minutes into the contest.
Despite their best efforts Saints struggled to turn the tide, but with two tries in the last 10 minutes of the half (McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Coote) they managed just that, going in at only 12-10 down at the interval.
What followed was 22 minutes of a hard fought stalemate in the second half before Regan Grace grabbed his 10th try of the season on the 62 minute mark (unconverted).The game was all but over five minutes later, when Coote scored his second try of the match (converted), before a late consolation try in the 79th minute for Trinity by Ashurst took the game to 16-20.
In what was being regarded as a match which was almost a write off for numerous reasons, the contest that unfolded on Friday evening was anything but.
An uncharacteristically poor start from table toppers St Helens was taken advantage of by a bright and energetic home side.
With four handling errors inside the opening seven minutes for the Saints, bottom of the table Trinity had little difficulty in capitalising on the away side’s sloppiness.
A clever layoff by loose forward Joe Westerman, allowed winger Reece Lynn to charge down the line before executing a delightful grubber kick inside, which bounced straight into the hands of onrushing Alex Walker who scored his seventh try of the season.
10 minutes later and Trinity had their second try of the game. A quick break which saw Jonny Lomax pull off an outstanding try saving tackle for the Saints was punished in the next phase of attack. A powerful run off Craig Kopczak saw him barge two St Helens players out the way before bundling the ball over the line.
An outstanding kicking display from Wakefield’s Ryan Hampshire ensured the next 10 minutes of the game were relatively stress free for the hosts, with the number 29’s range and accuracy allowing Trinity to dictate the areas in which the game was played.
The 30-minute mark however, saw the Saints upping the intensity and quality of their play to fight their way back into the contest.
James Roby released the ball from the breakdown and a strong run from McCarthy-Scarsbrook saw him power through three Trinity players and get the ball over the line.
Four minutes later and quick passing play along the line confirmed Saints arrival in the game when Josh Simm gathered the ball 10 yards from the try line on the wing. A delightful lay off in taking the tackle allowed Coote to gather the ball and touch the ball down for a try, making the score 12 – 10 to Trinity at the interval.
A resolute defensive display from both sides in the opening 20 minutes of the second half meant the score line remained the same up until the 62nd minute.
It was then the away side showed their class. Clever play from Theo Fages allowed Lomax to throw a looping pass out wide to Regan Grace who scored his 10th try of the campaign.
The try seemed to drain much of the remaining energy from the tiring home side, and five minutes later the game was all but finished.
The industrious Roby played a clever dummy from the breakdown before smartly releasing the ball to Lomax. A simple lay off after a short burst allowed Coote to make the score 20 – 10, before a last minute consolation try from Ashurst made for a respectable score-line of 20 – 16 to St Helens, which was no less than Trinity deserved.
Man of the match
Despite being on the losing side, Kyle Wood turned in a man of the match performance. An outstanding display of tackling from the hooker setting the tone for the Wakefield, and Wood’s determination was a major element in the contest being so evenly contested.
Both sides meet again next Thursday, with the Saints playing hosts this time around.