St Helens ease past Wakefield to extend lead at top – talking points & player ratings

Drew Darbyshire

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

St Helens are 12 points clear of Warrington at the top of Super League after beating Wakefield 26-6 at the Totally Wicked Stadium. 

Justin Holbrook made three changes to his side that knocked Halifax out of the Challenge Cup last week. Jonny Lomax, Regan Grace and Alex Walmsley dropped out of the side.

Jack Welsby, Zeb Taia and Adam Swift came in for Saints.

Wakefield coach Chris Chester also made three changes to his Wakefield outfit that lost at Wigan last time out. Jacob Miller, James Batchelor and Pauli Pauli were replaced by Danny Kirmond, Keegan Hirst and Craig Kopczak.

St Helens’ Danny Richardson and Wakefield’s Danny Brough exchanged penalty goals in the opening stages before Richardson scored the game’s first try.

The floodgates opened on the half hour mark as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Tommy Makinson went over to give Saints a 20-2 lead at the interval.

The game was over at the break and it was a slow second half, with Kevin Naiqama scoring for St Helens before Kelepi Tanginoa scored a consolation try for Trinity late on. St Helens ended up 26-6 winners.

Three talking points

Holbrook announcement not affected players

It was always going to be interesting in seeing how the St Helens players reacted to the news that Holbrook would be leaving at the end of the year to join NRL side Gold Coast Titans on a two-year contract.

The announcement of Holbrook’s departure on Wednesday put a dampener on their celebrations of getting to the Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

However, the news didn’t seem to be a distraction to the players as they put in a professional performance against Wakefield. In all honesty, they didn’t really get out of third gear as they had a comfortable hold of the game throughout.

St Helens have strength in depth

Holbrook has been rotating his squad a lot more this season compared to last and it is proving fruitful. It must make his job easier when the guys who come in are still top quality.

It’s not bad when you have got Swift as your back-up winger for Tommy Makinson and Regan Grace as well as Richardson being the understudy to Theo Fages and Lomax.

Let’s not forget to mention young Welsby at full-back, too, who has impressed in every game he has pulled on the Red V. It shows just how good the Saints team is when Luke Douglas has not even managed to make one appearance this year.

Credit to Wakefield troops

It would be the easy option to just criticise Wakefield for not winning many games in recent months but they are severely down on numbers and are absolutely shot at the minute.

With the likes of Tinirau Arona, Tom Johnstone and Tinirau Arona on the sidelines – Wakefield are having to play with injured bodies and they should be applauded for putting their hands up to play.

David Fifita is playing injured at the minute and he should be praised by everyone and he will not be the only one who isn’t 100%. Results aren’t going their way, but they are not losing through lack of effort.

Line-ups and player ratings

St Helens: Welsby (7); Makinson (8), Naiqama (7), Percival (8), Swift (7); Fages (7), Richardson (8); Lees (7), Roby (8), Thompson (7), Taia (7), Peyroux (7), McCarthy-Scarsbrook (8). Subs: Amor (7), Paulo (7), Ashworth (8), Bentley (6).

Tries: Richardson, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Makinson, Naiqama Goals: Richardson 5/5

Wakefield: Jowitt (7); Jones-Bishop (6), Lyne (6), Arundel (6), Tupou (7); Hampshire (5), Brough (6); England (6), Randell (6), Kopczak (6), Kirmond (6), Tanginoa (6), Annakin (7). Subs: Fifita (6), Hirst (5), King (5), Wood (6).

Tries: Tanginoa Goals: Brough 1/2

Attendance: 9,494

Drew’s views

I feel like I write the same things about St Helens every time I cover one of their games – I’m running out of words to describe how well-rounded of a team they are. They’ve got no weaknesses.

How good is it to see James Roby back to full fitness as well? He looks as sharp as ever after fully recovering from a groin injury. What a time of the season for him to come back for Saints as well…

As for Wakefield, I worry for them. They’ve got the toughest run in compared to London, Leeds, Huddersfield and Hull KR. They need a couple of fresh faces as soon as possible.

Elsewhere in Super League

Huddersfield 0-44 Leeds

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