Paul Cullen’s men had the better of the fist 40 in an end to end match that was full of big hits and silky skills.
Warrington led 6-0 early on through a quality solo effort from ex Saint Vinnie Anderson when he danced his way through the St Helens line and then rounded the in form Wellens to score under the posts after 8 minutes.
Saints responded well with a disallowed effort from young Dean McGilvray, for obstruction by centre Matt Gidley, then on 22 minutes Wilkin got his reward for following a high towering kick, from Sean Long’s replacement, young half back, Matty Smith, Brent Grose failed to take the bomb and Wilkin gathered the ball to score left of the sticks to level matters at 6-6.
Warrington regained the advantage on 33 minutes when a Lee Briers chip to the corner was caught in mid air by a diving Henry Fa’afili, which Briers converted from the touch line for a half time lead of 12-6.
Wainwright and Fa’asavalu spent 10 minutes each in the bin during the first half for fighting and at the break Mr Cullen would have been pleased with his troops, Morley, Woods, Leikvoll and Westwood all aiming up in defence and Briers, Clarke and Anderson pulling the strings in attack, their kick chase was good and it was looking like a real competitive second forty was on the cards.
Whatever Daniel Anderson said to his charges during the break, definitely had the right effect, it was a vintage St Helens 2nd half performance which de-railed any chance Warrington had of claiming the 2 points on offer, scoring 6 tries to none.
It was dazzling footwork and support play, that Warrington’s defensive line just could not cope with, as a rampant Saints side carved open the Wolves at will.
Young Matty Smith started the route with a superb 50 metre effort from a slick offload from prop forward Hargreaves to level things up at 12-12 after just two and a half minutes of the second forty.Next was Pryce’s first, on the back of robust go forward from Fa’asavalu and Cayless, he sliced through the retreating defence to score on 48 minutes which edged Saints out to a 12-18 lead they never recinded.
Pryce got his second following a Wilkin interception and offload as he outstripped the Warrington back line and returned the ball 40 metres to effectively end the game as a contest at 12-24 and bag his brace. St Helens refused to settle for what they had though, and with good ball control and Warrington chasing the game, and coming up with errors, it was Ade Gardener who capitalised on a poor attempt to field a high ball from a Jon Wilkin kick with Gardener collecting the rebound, and scoring in the corner, young Tyrer missed the only conversion of the day from out wide.
Pryce sealed a marvellous individual performance with his hatrick after 68 following some desperate scramble defence from his team mates Pryce supported a James Roby attack and sidestepped his way past several flailing attempts from a now tired Warrington defence and raced 50 metres to crown a fine 40 minute master class, which was completed by the rampaging Maurie Fa’asavalu effort, on 72 minutes, this one highlighting the power and bruit force that Saints posses with the dynamic front rower smashing over from close range, following a blunder from Richie Barnett as he attempted to catch a high ball.
Mr Cullen may well be looking for new employers soon if this run of bad results continues, but in truth Warrington were not that bad, it was just champagne rugby from the entertainers of super league, but that wont stop the boo boys who again targeted the Warrington coach, as the teams left the field at the end of the match, with the score board reading Warrington 12 St Helens 40.
In this form though, I think any team will struggle to contain the wave of attacks that saints throw at teams, they work hard at creating the roll on and with the likes of Roby, Cunningham and Pryce jumping out of the dummy half it is almost impossible to stop, with the pace and skill that St Helens posses.
So it’s top of the tree for Saints and with S.Long, M.Bennett, W.Talau, F.Meli and N.Fozzard still to come back Saints will be hard to stop, while it’s back to the drawing board for the Wolves, with more sleepless nights for Paul Cullen as he tries to reverse his teams form and results, before his employer’s loose patience, and do a Salford.
B.Grose H.Fa’afili M.Gleeson P.Johnson R.Barnett V.Anderson L.Briers P.Wood J.Clarke C.Leikvoll B.Westwood A.Morley M.Wainwright
Subs: M.Gleeson A.Bracek R.Parker B.Harrison
Scorers: Tries: Anderson 8mins Fa’afili 33mins
Goals: Briers x 2
P.Wellens A.Gardener M.Gidley L.Gilmour D.McGilvray L.Pryce M.Smith J.Cayless J.Roby J.Graham J.Wilkin P.Sculthorpe P.Clough
Subs: M.Fa’asavalu B.Hargreaves K.Cunningham S.Tyrer
Scorers: Wilkin 22mins Smith 43mins Pryce 48, 58 and 68mins Gardener 66mins Fa’asavalu 75mins
Goals: Sculthorpe 4 Tyrer 1 Smith 1