Five takeaways from St Helens’ win over St George Illawarra Dragons
Following a 30-18 win for St Helens over St George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL pre-season challenge, here’s our five takeaways from the match Down Under.
St Helens sharpness
Saints started the game very well, with the Dragons struggling to deal with the pace and intensity of Saints’ attack.
But as the game went on, Paul Wellens’ side came up with a couple of errors, which they certainly can’t afford to do next week against Penrith.
But overall, the Saints were good value. Tommy Makinson produced some solid carries out of yardage and even came up with a tremendous finish in the corner, beating four men to get the ball down.
Sironen goes well
There were a couple of forwards who stood out for the Saints, with England enforcer Alex Walmsley being one.
But probably the best forward on the pitch was Curtis Sironen, who had his dad Paul watching on from the stands.
The former Wests Tigers and Manly forward came up with some powerful carries inside his own half and really got his side on the front foot. He produced a couple of big hits in defence too. He was real handful for St George Illawarra.
SIRONEN: Ex-NRL players keen to show they’ve still got it in World Club Challenge
Welsby and Dodd link up
Super League fans already know all about Jack Welsby and Lewis Dodd. The pair are electric when they link up together.
Full-back Welsby and half-back Dodd have played together for years, having come through the ranks at Saints at the same time.
They caused plenty of problems against the Dragons and they will both need to be bang on if they are to get the win against the Panthers in the big one.
Welsby and Dodd are both box-office players. They are the type of players that are worth the ticket money alone.
Every member of the St Helens squad who has travelled over to Australia got game time against the Dragons apart from enforcer Morgan Knowles.
The England international was a late withdrawal from Wellens’ side through illness.
Speaking just before the match, Wellens said: “He has been a little bit under the weather this week. Given the fact we’ve got a really important game next week, if he goes out there today and plays not 100%, then it could knock back his recovery by a few days so we took the sensible approach with Morgan.”
Let’s hope he’s back to full health this time next week.
Young Dragons catch the eye
Anthony Griffin rested several key players for the game, including Jack Bird, Aaron Woods, Jack de Belin, Jayden Sullivan and Jaydn Su’A.
As a result, a host of young bucks got their chance to have a crack against the Super League champions.
Savelio Tamale, a former Junior Wallabies representative, impressed when he entered the action.
Dan Russell, who played for Papua New Guinea at last year’s World Cup, played big minutes and stood up well against tough opposition.
How it happened
- 8′ Lewis Dodd opened the scoring after a lovely James Roby grubber. Makinson converted. (0-6)
- 12′ Jack Welsby scores from superb Tommy Makinson offload. Conversion missed. (0-10)
- 21′ Dragons get their first try through Zac Lomax who converts his own effort. (6-10)
- 24′ Treigh Stewart puts the Dragons in front. Lomax converts. (12-10)
- 33′ Makinson beats four men to score in the corner. Conversion missed. (12-16)
- HALF TIME: Dragons 12-16 Saints
- 63′ Joey Lussick trademark try from dummy half. Ben Davies converts. (12-22)
- 71′ New Saints recruit Tee Ritson produces acrobatic finish in the corner. Davies converts. (12-28)
- 74′ Dragons pull one back through Savelio Tamale. Alex Lobb converted. (18-28)
- 79′ Ben Davies adds penalty goal. (18-30)
- FULL TIME: Dragons 18-30 Saints
How they lined-up
Dragons: Stewart, Mat Feagai, Suli, Lomax, Ravalawa, Muhleisen, Mbye, Coric, Liddle, Lawrie, Murdoch-Masila, Burns, Hunt, Moga, Max Feagai, Lui-Toso, Russell, H Finau, S Finau, Lobb, Tamale, Shereb, Cook, T Couchman, Herring, Egan, R Couchman, Johnson.
Tries: Lomax, Stewart, Tamale Goals: Lomax 2, Lobb 1
Saints: Welsby, Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Hopoate, Lomax, Dodd, Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Mata’utia, Batchelor, Bell, Bennison, Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Sironen, Paasi, Wingfield, Bell, Norman, Davies, Royle, Baxter, Ritson, Hill.
Tries: Dodd, Welsby, Makinson, Lussick, Ritson Goals: Makinson 2, Davies 3
What they said
St Helens captain James Roby said: “I’m very happy. It was a long way to travel over here and it was our first hit out against NRL opposition. We were a bit apprehensive, we didn’t know what to expect but I think the game was great for us. We blew a couple of chances at times but it was a good set for set game in parts and on the whole, coming away with the win is very pleasing.”
Dragons half-back Moses Mbye said: “It was a really good hit out. I thought St Helens were a really competitive outfit. There were some pretty good cycles in that game which was pleasing, that’s what we wanted to get out of it. There are a few things for us to work on, we had a few errors there and we didn’t execute what we wanted to. It was a good trial and I think we ironed out a few creases.”
St Helens take on Penrith Panthers in the World Club Challenge on February 18.
READ NEXT: How St Helens can win the NRL pre-season challenge