McDonnell bags two as Saints stay top of the pile

Shannon McDonnell

Shannon McDonnell

First published in Sport
Last updated
St Helens Star: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Sports Writer

Saints 40 Wakefiled 16.

SAINTS remain on top of the Super League after the re-jigged side posted a convincing win over Wakefield.

Nathan Brown had shuffled his team in the absence of his long term casualties Luke Walsh, Jon Wilkin, Jonny Lomax and Lance Hohaia, with Paul Wellens moved up to scrum half being replaced by debutant Shannon McDonnell at full back.

Fielding four props to start, Saints went for power with Jordan Turner providing some variety to the Saints attack from loose forward.

Saints took an early lead when McDonnell’s chip on the last tackle forced and error, and from the subsequent free play Mark Percival dabbed through for Tommy Makinson to touch down.

Unfortunately, there was the worrying sight of England hooker James Roby leaving the field on 15 minutes, but he returned with his leg strapped at the start of the second half after having several stitches.

Although Saints enjoyed the lion’s share of the ball, forcing a number of repeat sets with smart kicking from Turner, Wheeler and Wellens it took them until the 27th minute to breach the visitors’ line again.

This time it was quick hands from Wellens sending centre Josh Jones rumbling home.

Despite being under the cosh for ther opening half hour Trinity countered with a close range crash over score from Danny Washbrook on the stroke of half time, with Jarrod Sammut’s goal cutting the deficit to six points at the break.

Saints caught Trinity cold at the start of the second half and a break from speedy centre Percival, who had the wherewithal to put in a clever kick along the touchline, produced a debut try for McDonnell.

Percival added the magnificent conversion, but Trinity hit back when Tim Smith lofted the ball for Richard Owen to out-jump Matty Dawson to touch down.

However, Saints’ big men were dominating their opposites and Sia Soliola got a reward for that when he forced his way over.

And then a great break from the rejuvenated Roby, backed up by Turner concluded with McDonnell bagging his second of the night.

There was a popular late consolation for old boy and veteran of the 2006 Grand Slam winning team Lee Gilmour, but Saints had the last word with a flamboyant touchdown from speedster Makinson.

The only dark cloud over proceedings was the groin injury which led to Gary Wheeler leaving the field and putting a question mark over yet another Saints half.

Saints: McDonnell; Makinson, Jones, Percival, Dawson; Wheeler, Wellens; Amor, Roby, Walmsley, Laffranchi, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Turner. Subs: Masoe, Soliola, Manu, Flanagan.

Wakefield: Jowitt; Owen, Collis, Lyne, Riley; Sammut, Smith; Anderson, McShane, Raleigh, Lauitiiti, Kirmond, Washbrook. Subs: Wilde, Tautai, Molloy, Gilmour.

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