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Jon Wilkin picks out “Champion” play from St Helens that sums up why they’re the best

Once again Huddersfield Giants showed that they can compete with the very best in Super League but like last week as they came up short by the exact same scoreline.

Things didn’t start great for St Helens. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook was named on the bench ready to make his 350th St Helens appearance and he only had to wait 25 seconds after Sione Mata’utia stayed down after an early tackle before going off with for a Head Injury Assessment.

After that, St Helens very nearly scored the opener when they had a real good look at the Giants line following a penalty for a strip on Konrad Hurrell. They came close but some brilliant defence denied them. Then on the next set a miss timed pass was picked up by Sam Halsall who linked nicely with Will Pryce to get the Giants down field. Then a chance was made for Innes Senior but he was unable to kick ahead and dropped the ball.

Will Pryce was having a brilliant start to the game and some more magic footwork saw him carve through the Saints defence helping the Giants get a repeat set but this time the Saints stood firm.

Huddersfield were the better side for the first 25 minutes. They were more than matching the Saints down the middle and playing the game at a better pace than them. But that pace did seem to slow when they were attacking the Saints line and at times they squandered breaks. Then the Saints rolled down field and showed the class of Champions. After a lovely run by Jonny Lomax, Jack Welsby’s short ball sent Konrad Hurrell over.

It was all of a sudden unravelling for the Giants. They kicked the kick off out on the full and then the Saints went to the same side and this time Tommy Makinson squeezed in at the corner.

After their first half display had come to pieces a touch, Ash Golding came up with a sneaky try scouting over on the last. Golding has spent some time play at nine and this time on the wing he burrowed over.

The Giants had three sets of six on the Saints line at the start of the second half and did look dangerous but eventually squandered the possession when Seb Ikahihifo went on a brilliant run and offloaded it but there was no one waiting. Interestingly after that Jake Connor was introduced. However, he had his work cut out for him when a Saints penalty took the score out to 14-6.

A lovely scrum move involving man of the hour Jake Connor feeding Will Pryce out the back who found Innes Senior saw the winger cross in the corner despite a desperate tackle from Jack Welsby. The video referee checked in touch and the grounding and the try was given. This came after plenty of repeat sets on the Saints line.

In the end though it was this defence and desperation that gave Saints the win.

There was one moment that for Jon Wilkin summed up why Saints are the Champions and it was at the start of the second half when the Saints defended their line for three sets before Will Hopoate dived on a loose offload from Seb Ikahihifo beating Chris McQueen to it.

Wilkin said: “You want to boil down a Champion team? Look at this. Saints defending their own line, desperation from Hopoate to get there.

“They are big moments, fighting for possession and Saints will take encouragement with how they defended there.”

Meanwhile, Terry O’Connor was critical of McQueen saying: “He has to drop on that.”

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