TO mark the return of Super League Mike Critchley will be digging up a memorable match from his 43 years of watching Saints to stir a few memories of previous encounters.

With Saints taking on Catalans Dragons on Sunday, in what is scheduled as a home game, despite it being played at Headingley we take a look back at a real thriller.

It was the second Super League match at Langtree Park on 24 February 2012 which saw Saints sunk by a heart-breaking after the bell try to lose 32-34.

It was a defeat that put the skids under Saints, heralding the start of a four-match losing run which ultimately saw coach Royce Simmons shown the door by mid March.

There are just four players from that day still in the Saints side - Tommy Makinson, Jonny Lomax, James Roby and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook. Hopefully they will avoid a similar fate this weekend.

FORTRESS Langtree Park didn’t last very long then. To be precise the eventual capitulation came after 160 minutes and crucially 22 seconds of mad, frantic Hail Mary football played after the final hooter.

The ‘Wide to West’ endgame, which saw Daryl Millard cut inside Jonny Lomax’s despairing tackle for the match winning try, followed by Scott Dureau’s touchline conversion provided the sickening punchline to a game that Saints appeared to simply let slip through their fingers.

Now we all know how Matthew Elliot felt when he slumped off his chair back in September 2000 - no surprise then that the home fans in the magnificent 13,108 Langtree Park crowd – the biggest of the weekend - shuffled away shaking their heads in disbelief, rather than marvel at the thrills and spills they had just witnessed.

St Helens Star:

Saints knew they were going to be in a tough game against the side with the only 100 per cent record left in the Super League and one tipped as the competition’s dark horses.

However, a crafty and disciplined first 55 minutes from Royce Simmons’ men seemed to have put them well in the driving seat with all the bad habits from the previous week, bar the odd blip, smoothed out of their game.

During the best part of that opening hour Saints’ Jonny Lomax and Lee Gaskell, teaming up in the halves again, provided the inspirational spark of those attacks.

Gaskell’s slide rule kick to Foster got Saints off the mark and Lomax, in his most creative game of the season so far, showed a superb dummy and inside ball to Anthony Laffranchi to increase that.

With due deference to Roger Daltrey, it was definitely a case of the Kids are Alright when Gary Wheeler once again showed his finishing prowess when he raced on to a crash ball and twisted through three men to ground the ball.

And five minutes after the break a full width flowing movement, with Gaskell and Lomax again central figures , saw Tommy Makinson do a fine impersonation of a slip fielder in picking up Michael Shenton’s squeezed-ball pass from around his ankles to touch down.

At this stage Dragons had only a converted Remi Casty try, courtesy of a shocking missed tackle from Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, plus a late penalty to show for their early endeavour.

St Helens Star:

Saints looked home and dry at 26-8 with some particularly good contributions from Mark Flanagan, who took the ball in straight and hard and made good contact with his shoulder in defence.

Jon Wilkin, too, put himself about combining his usual finesse with the ball with some crunching defence, cutting Thomas Bosc in half with one copybook tackle.

Traditionally French sides – even ones with such a large Antipodean smattering – tend to be confidence players who can grow a leg once they get on the front foot.

But the Dragons were quite fortuitous in getting their first toe hold back in the game when Roby was penalised for kneeing the ball out of Lopini Paea’s grasp after the tackle, when replays showed he had simply lost it.

It was one of four consecutive penalties that swung the pendulum towards the Dragons.

From there the old warhorse Steve Menzies, who slowly began to give the left wing Wheeler-Foster partnership nightmares, threw a pass to ground that looked forward for Damien Blanch to race in.

It was the start of that three tries in eight minutes spell that turned the game upside down. Vincent Duport’s try, after Foster had caught and then lost the ball under pressure from Blanch came shortly afterwards.

And Foster was probably still reliving that mistake in his head when he allowed Blanch a clear run down the flank before turning the ball back inside for the team’s architect Dureau to romp home.

The momentum was all Catalan – and even an interception try from Wheeler could not reverse that, particularly as Shenton was unable to gather the restart kick.

Another penalty piggy-backed the Dragons downfield from where Leon Pryce sent Setaimata Sa through the gap the width of a double decker.

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For all the criticism thrown at Saints defence so far this term – mostly system frailties rather than through effort – they produced a sterling backs-to-the-wall effort in the last five minutes when the Dragons attacked and found support players with every scuffed kick and smuggled out pass.

As the tension mounted the Saints looked as though they had held on and got away with it. And they surely would have done had the referee spotted the tackled Pryce clearly passing the ball off the floor despite his ball carrying elbow touching the floor 80 seconds from the end.

Once again Saints repelled the last frantic Catalan wave and, agonisingly, had they managed to hold the last tackler down for one more second the hooter would have sounded before the ball was back in play.

Ifs and buts…a scruffy sequence of events that lent itself more to Pinball Wizard meets Sonic the Hedgehog than Wide to Wide, saw a hoof to the corner, a miscued fly-hack, a couple of frantic offloads out of a heap of desperate Saints tackles, before the ball was passed, patted, lobbed and squirted left for Millard to clinch it.

Dureau, who had an outstanding last 30 minutes for the visitors, delivered the coup de grace by slotting the ball through the middle if the aitches.

St Helens Star:

Saints: Wellens; Makinson, Shenton, Wheeler, Foster; Gaskell, Lomax; Laffranchi, Roby, McCarthy Scarsbrook, Soliola, Wilkin, Puletua. Subs: Hohaia, Flannery, Flanagan, Clough.

Catalans: Greenshields; Blanch, Millard, Duport, Bosc; Pryce, Dureau; Casty, Henderson, Paea, Sa, Menzies, Baitieri. Subs: Ferriol, Mounis, Raguin, Fakir.

Att: 13,108