Super League: Wakefield Wildcats 16-20 St Helens

St Helens veteran Paul Wellens scores the first try of the night at Belle Vue
St Helens veteran Paul Wellens scores the first try of the night at Belle Vue
First Utility Super League
Wakefield (12) 16
Tries: Ashurst, Lyne, Owen Goals: Hall 2
St Helens (6) 20
Tries: Wellens, Greenwood, Turner Goals: Percival, Makinson 2

St Helens were made to hard work hard for their victory as they maintained their 100% start to the new Super League season with a win at Wakefield.

Wakefield led 12-6 at the break as they replied to Paul Wellens' first try of 2015 with converted tries of their own from Matty Ashurst and Reece Lyne.

But second-half scores from Joe Greenwood and Jordan Turner turned it round again for the reigning champions.

Richard Owen crossed late on, but Tommy Makinson's three goals proved crucial.

Makinson took over kicking duties after centre Mark Percival, who had converted Wellens' try, added to injury-hit Saints' woes.

Having lost full-back Jonny Lomax, who was hurt going up for a high ball, forward Luke Thompson went off with concussion following a clash with team-mate Mose Masoe and Percival with a knee injury in the space of two minutes, leaving them with just one fit substitute for the remaining 55 minutes.

Craig Hall kicked two goals for Wakefield, who suffered their second straight defeat.

Champions St Helens were outclassed in the World Club Challenge against Australian opposition a fortnight ago when they were soundly thrashed 39-0 by South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Wellens one shy of a double century
Paul Wellens was making his first appearance of the season for St Helens, having been drafted in at stand-off for the suspended Travis Burns. He scored his 199th Super League try to take him level with his former Great Britain team-mate Keith Senior in the list of top try scorers in the 20 seasons of Super League. Only Leeds' Danny McGuire is ahead of him.

But it has been a different story for Keiron Cunningham's men in Super League - and, after this valiant effort, the new head coach is still to drop his first point, leaving his side joint top with Leeds.

Wakefield also won their first two games before conceding 10 tries in their 58-16 hammering at Widnes a week ago, the highest winning total of the season to date.

And, despite Wellens' early try, Wakefield looked like they might get back to winning ways when they led at the break.

After stand-off Jacob Miller wasted a great chance when he spilled the ball just short of the line, second-rower Ashurst and centre Lyne made up for it by earning a half-time six-point cushion, but Saints showed they are not short on spirit as they rallied after the break.

A gallop of more than half the length of the field by forward Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook created the platform for Greenwood to go under the posts.

That levelled the match again at 12-12, rapidly followed by a Makinson penalty to put Saints back in front.

Centre Turner stretched Saints' lead with the visitors' third try, also improved by Makinson and, at 20-12, suddenly they had breathing space.

James Webster's Wakefield tested Saints' nerve when a kick bounced kindly for winger Owen to match Saints' try tally by scoring in the corner 10 minutes from time.

But Hall missed with the kick and, despite a grandstand finish from the hosts, they could not find another way through.

Wakefield coach James Webster:

"It was gutsy and certainly a big improvement from last week, but we were dumb.

"We had a chance to win that game a couple of times.

"But we were not good enough to get the job done."

St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham:

"We had a lot of adversity. You can't really practice what we did out there today. You have just got to have faith in your team. Today just shows what they are made of.

"I had one sub in Lance Hohaia and I had to save him up for as long as I could.

"I'm proud of the way they hung in and worked for each other. I've been involved as a player in wins through adversity and those are the ones you remember."

Wakefield: Hall; Riley, Collis, Lyne, Owen; Miller, D Smith; T Smith, Washbrook, Scruton, Kirmond, Ashurst, Ryan.

Replacements: Lauitiiti, McShane, Simon, Paea.

St Helens: Lomax; Makinson, Percival, Turner, Swift; Wellens, Wilkin; Walmsley, Roby, Richards, Vea, Greenwood, Flanagan.

Replacements: Masoe, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Hohaia.

Referee: Robert Hicks