THATTO Heath came out on top in the big St Helens derby with a victory that was underpinned by a tireless defensive performance.

The visitors were always in control in a clash played in rainy conditions on Ruskin Drive's 4G pitch and they held firm in the second half when incessant Recs pressure threatened their line.

Thatto, who included former Widnes and Castleford player Paddy Flynn at full back, registered the first try when swift hands from a scrum put winger Louis Taylor in at the right corner.

Impressive second rower Jamie Tracey increased the lead when he powered over before stand off Bobbie Goulding, son of the former Saints scrum half, added another.

Goulding's second conversion made it 0-16 and for much of the first half Recs' attack was blunted by the suffocating defence from the men from Close Street.

However, the home side did make a breaktrhough when loose forward Greg Smith slid a grubber kick through that rebounded into the path of second row Mark Briody, who touched down for a converted try.

It left the clash poised at 6-16 at the break but Heath skipper Chris Frodsham extended the lead in the opening stages of the second half when he dummied and dropped his shoulder before gliding to the line from 30 metres out.

Smith, who carried Recs' greatest threat, hit back when he scampered through for a converted try and with the score at 12-22 Recs began to apply pressure.

With Heath reduced to 12-men after a sin-binning, the red, amber and blacks had their chance.

But the disciplined and aggressive defensive line drilled into Heath by new coach Richard Owen absorbed the pressure and forced errors.

Mark Ashton went closest for Recs but appeared to lose the ball in the tackle as he attempted to touch down.

Heath were awarded for their steely reslove when they went down the other end and scored through loose forward Andy Lea who showed skill to scoop up a bounced pass on the greasy surfaced and slide over for a try Goulding converted.