Send us news by text, start your message Star News and your send photos and videos to 80360
A lot to like about Saints win at Bradford
10:00am Wednesday 27th February 2013 in Latest News
THERE was a lot to like about a Saints performance that did much to settle some of the early season jitters and give them a good platform to attack March’s tough round of fixtures.
Not least of the highlights was seeing Jonny Lomax – playing without the weight of organising the team on his young shoulders – chime into the line with devastating effect from full back to grab three tries.
Deputising for the injured skipper Paul Wellens, Lomax was brave under the high ball in a performance that could present coach Nathan Brown with something of a selection conundrum when his injured players return.
Saints were altogether more composed and structured, with stand in skipper Jon Wilkin providing the steady hand on the tiller swapping back row for the scrum half berth.
He paired up with Gary Wheeler, playing his first game of the season, and between them they helped guide Saints around the pitch with Wilkin’s kicking game helping to turn the screw on the Bulls.
In the forward exchanges the Saints pack was very combative, with Sia Soliola working a lot closer to the middle to help grind down the opposition.
Soliola’s tireless stint gave Saints something of a lift in that department, particularly given the youthful nature of Saints’ bench with another debutant Anthony Walker joining teen prop Joe Greenwood and youngster Alex Walmsley.
This time last year Saints got themselves dragged down into a dogfight from which they, or rather the then coaching team of Royce Simmons and Kieron Purtill, perished.
They took nothing to chance this time around with Lomax grabbing the opener when he zipped through on the right after barely two minutes.
Potent runner Willie Manu skipped through some atrocious tackling up the middle for Saints’ second and when Anthony Laffranchi ran his now customary excellent line to take a reverse pass it was 16-0 in as many minutes.
Saints remained composed and Lomax stepped his way through for his second to keep the scoreboard ticking over.
Bulls did have some chances as they sought to get a toe-hold in the game, but they were foiled by some keen defence and some bafflingly inept attack. On one such occasion Matty Blythe had options on the left but somehow managed to propel the ball into touch.
And just after the half time hooter Bulls’ jack-in-the-box Jarrod Sammut somehow lost the ball over the line after Francis Meli’s careless Ward 10 pass was spilled by fit again Ade Gardner.
In between those Bulls misses, big Tony Puletua did his Harry Houdini escapology act to somehow wriggle out of the grasp of a two man tackle to make it 26-0 at the break. The second half lacked the same sense of merciless rigour from Saints, with Bulls getting the slenderest of hoof-holds when they scored first five minutes after the break when full back Brett Kearney crossed.
It took Saints 30 minutes to get their first score of the half, with Meli surging down the left and holding the ball up well for Lomax to dive over for his hat-trick.
Gardner, playing his first senior Saints game since last May, grabbed a try as a reward for his afternoon of strong line clearing runs but the game had already gone off the boil a little.
Bulls had the last word – after the final hooter had gone – with wing Elliot Kear scoring off the last kick of the game to make the scoreline look more respectable.
Bradford: Kearney; Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Foster; Addy, Sammut; Scruton, Dixon, Sidlow, Olbison, Whitehead, Walker. Subs; L’Estrange, Donaldson, Langley, Manuokafoa.
Saints: Lomax; Gardner, Turner, Jones, Meli; Wheeler, Wilkin; Puletua, Roby, Laffranchi, Manu, Soliola, Flanagan. Subs: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walker, Greenwood, Walmsley.