Super League: Warrington Wolves 10-12 St Helens - Champions taken to the wire by hosts

Tommy Makinson
Tommy Makinson scores St Helens' second try at the Halliwell Jones Stadium
Betfred Super League
Warrington (4) 10
Tries: Widdop, Williams Goals: Ratchford
St Helens (12) 12
Tries: Walmsley, Makinson Goals: Makinson 2

St Helens ensured they will go into the Challenge Cup final break top of the Super League after victory over a Warrington side that made them sweat.

Gareth Widdop gave the Wire a surprise early lead, but Saints roared in front before half-time through Alex Walmsley and Tommy Makinson scores.

Saints had ample chances to add to the lead, but could not execute and George Williams' try made it a two-point game.

Makinson's goal-kicking proved key in the end as the Wire came up short.

Saints open up a four-point lead over Wigan and Catalans at the top with this win, albeit with the rest of their rivals yet to feature, but their players will certainly feel every bump and bruise after a tough examination of their character.

Wire were chastised for their second-half collapse at Catalans last weekend but they showed real mettle to run the champions close all the way to the final hooter.

Daryl Powell's rebuild of Warrington has stuttered since he arrived last winter, but his side were physical and tenacious, while the decision to put Widdop at full-back proved inspired.

They got the opening score, when a quick shift to the right released the pacy Connor Wrench, who carved open space for Widdop to cross in support.

He then hit a superb line from deep in the second half to rip open Saints at the back for Williams' try, while his defensive positioning was outstanding to keep the kicking game at bay.

Defensive efforts also proved key to keep Warrington in the contest, with James Roby, Walmsley, Konrad Hurrell and Jack Welsby all denied tries by desperate efforts with the line beckoning.

Coach Kristian Woolf can be pleased with the defensive effort of his Saints side, particularly when Makinson made a last-ditch challenge to foil Wrench as he made a burst in the 79th minute.

Errors littered the fare, in part down to tenacity from both sides and also the thunderous pace of the game, while it was a moment of ingenuity from Saints to get them back level.

Warrington tried to keep the ball at the base of the scrum but Saints pushed, forcing a spill that Walmsley toed on and touched down.

Skill was behind the try that effectively decided the game, as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook's touchback moved on, in particular with fellow prop Agnatius Paasi's 20-metre spin pass, with Makinson dotting down out wide.

Warrington boss Daryl Powell:

"I thought we were class tonight, I think we would beat most, if not all the other teams. We had an opportunity at the end to win the game but St Helens are a quality team and the confidence we will get from going toe to toe with them is significant.

"We get so much from that. It's huge in terms of what we are able to do in the second half of the season. To keep them scoreless in the second half is quite an effort.

"We've shown what we can do when everybody is aligned, particularly defensively.

"It's a massive step forward. We need to replicate that on a consistent basis and develop our game and have more composure in attacking positions."

St Helens boss Kristian Woolf:

"It was a good game of footy. I thought Warrington were really good, they challenged us in different ways. I didn't think we were quite at our best. We made some uncharacteristic errors but the effort was outstanding and, when we were under pressure, we just turned up for each other. That's what this group does.

"Sometimes you get a little bit ugly with the ball and sometimes you don't quite get things right, that was certainly us tonight.

"I was really happy with how we handled that last 10 minutes. It was a bit nerve-wracking but I knew what sort of effort and scramble we would come up with.

"Tommy Makinson's effort to get in position to make that play was outstanding. He's the best winger in the competition, but he's a team player first."

Warrington: Widdop; Wrench, Mata'utia, King, Ashton; Ratchford, Williams; Philbin, D. Clark, Cooper, Currie, Holmes, Magoulias.

Interchanges: J. Clark, Bullock, Davis, Mulhern.

St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Mata'utia, Percival; Davies, Lomax; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Batchelor, Knowles.

Interchanges: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Paasi, Bell.

Referee: James Child

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