SAINTS produced their best performance since their triumphant return from Australia with an emphatic 28-6 win over league leaders Warrington Wolves.

What made the manner of the victory even more impressive was they did it without eight first choice players and ten absentees in total.

Wolves had their self-inflicted weaknesses too, with middles Paul Vaughan, Gil Dudson and Joe Philbin all banned, but for Saints it was a case of who was playing rather than who was sat in the stand.

Here are five take aways from that performance.

St Helens Star:

1. Saints' defensive intensity.

For the first time since the win over Penrith, Saints produced the sort of intense defensive effort that has been a key part of the team’s DNA during what has been an unprecedented run of success.

They controlled the ruck area effectively – much to Daryl Powell’s chagrin – and their line speed was back to being its aggressive self, repeatedly pinning back the Wolves in their own end.

After a run of games in which it has been Saints being pinned, it was refreshing to hear the crowd greet each Wolves stunted carry with a cheer.

From that, and the field position and territory battle that comes with that, everything else falls into place.

When Paul Wellens was asked after Wigan about the list of things they needed to fix, his response was that in prioritising key areas would see the rest solve itself.

And so it was with this key aspect of the game.

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2. Jonny Lomax’s lead role.

With the ball, Saints started strongly too, with Jonny Lomax grabbing the game by the scruff at half back with Lewis Dodd and Jack Welsby playing effective complementary roles off the back of that.

Lomax was threatening in taking on the line, kicked effectively and again found the perfect passes to put on some of Saints’ most effective big plays.

And the icing on the cake was the try he scored.

Lomax and James Roby marshalled the troops and managed the game effectively, not simply in helping build an early lead but also in stopping it to-ing and fro-ing like the games against say Leeds and Leigh. Their game management – off the back of, and in tandem with. the grunt of the pack – was invaluable.

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3. James Bell.

Saints are two games into Morgan Knowles’ five-game ban but when life gives you lemons, then make lemonade.

Step forward James Bell. Now in the past year and a bit we have all seen the enthusiastic, combative style of a player who plays above his body weight.

But the stand out feature of Bell’s game against Wire was his passing game from first receiver and that provided an extra pivot in the middle of the field.

Although the role was not quite as commanding as the old school ball playing loose forward role of the Knocker Norton, Shane Cooper or Harry Pinner era, it was nevertheless another valuable component in helping Saints’ attack ask more questions.

He mixed it up too, with those inside balls to props Matty Lees and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook helping Saints’ forward momentum.

And he subtly combined with the halves, without over complicating or getting in their way, to add another dimension to Saints’ attacking play.

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4. Saints varied and carefree play.

Wellens was critical of some of the one-out rugby his side reverted to when under pressure in the tight game on Good Friday.

We saw a little bit better ball movement at Hull KR last week, and even more against Wire. They played like they were having a ball, with plenty of width, using the threat of a couple of quicker men on the flanks.


Konrad Hurrell looked like he was enjoying having a speedster like Tee Ritson outside him and whether it was a flick pass or a tip on he did his best to get the Barrovian’s hands on the ball.

There was an energy, enthusiasm and variety there and it was a joy to watch.


It may give Wire full back Matt Dufty some nightmares, but the dummy Jon Bennison sold him before sauntering over in front of the West Stand was an absolute delight and a clip that deserves to be shown on a loop over and over.

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5. Saints control of the game.

Saints have been guilty of building leads and then being soft in the way they defended them. Again the Leeds and Leigh games come to mind.

But the way they managed the game and played with patience when they had the lead meant the Wolves did not get a sniff.

Before getting carried away, you have to throw in the caveat that both sides had key packmen missing and that altered the complexion of the game.

But to produce such a masterful performance will give a re-assuring tonic to the players and coaching staff as they build into what was always going to be a monumentally challenging season.