Liverpool St Helens 29 Altrincham Kersal 5

St Helens Star: Greg Smith runs in for LSH's fourth try. Picture: Colin Douglas Greg Smith runs in for LSH's fourth try. Picture: Colin Douglas

In complete contrast to the previous week at Wirral, Liverpool St Helens defeated strugglers Altrincham Kersal with a scoreline that flattered their efforts and certainly was not what the visitors deserved.

It was however, a much needed, albeit a last gasp, bonus point win in what had been billed as a “must win” game and lifts the Moss Laners two places up the North One West table. A bitterly cold afternoon following on from almost three days of rainfall was always going to influence the style and tempo of the game and so it proved.

LSH adapted much the quicker and with significantly greater possession and territory took the lead after 12 minutes with a penalty taken by Dan Filson whilst regular kicker Greg Smith was running off a knock received minutes earlier.

Further chances were created by the home side, primarily down the right wing but all came to nothing mainly through indifferent handling and poor passing.

After 20 minutes the forwards took a hand and after two strong attacks had been defended stoutly and held up, an ensuing lineout catch and drive was successfully steered over the Kersal line for a trademark try from number 8 Phil Kearns, converted by the now recovered Smith.

Six minutes later the pack, in which youngsters John Windle and Sam Molyneux were again prominent, successfully turned a Kersal scrum five metres from their own line and then pushed their way over the line again for a second try from Kearns to leave LSH 15-0 in front at half time.

With LSH now needing two more scores for a bonus point it was, however, the visitors that began the second half with real intent and in a reversal of the first half made most of the running for a good thirty minutes.

They deservedly reduced the arrears in the 61st minute when after strong pressure down the right the ball was swung left for winger James Coulson to score a try in the left hand corner.

This didn’t exactly galvanise the home side but they came more into the game at their own pace. With time rapidly running out and the Moss Lane Faithful reconciled to just the four point win a midfield charge involving Danny Webster and Greg Smith led to the hard working Adam Glover powering his way over for a try in the 78th minute, converted by Smith.

With some of LSH’s long established and esteemed members, sheltering from the cold in the main stand, now fully awake, the game entered its final minute.

They witnessed a remarkable solo try from Greg Smith, twisting, turning, sprinting and ultimately strolling over the line from almost 70 metres. Ian Stanley converted and the referee blew for full time. Job done.

Next two fixtures: 25 Jan Birkenhead Park (a) League; 1 Feb Rochdale (a) Lancs Cup.

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