St Helens kept their play-off hopes alive with a dramatic 18-16 win over Wakefield at the Beaumont Legal Stadium. Jonny Lomax’s 78th minute try managed to snatch them a victory, despite being behind all game.
It was the home side who opened the scoring on 11 minutes, with a great last-tackle effort to create Bill Tupou’s first of the evening. Jacob Miller managed to outjump Ben Barba to tap down Liam Finn’s kick, before Scott Grix put in his own pinpoint kick, beating the out of position Tommy Makinson and finding Tupou for the try. Finn could only hit the post with his attempt at goal.
He soon made up for that missed conversion, though, knocking over a penalty goal for a late shot and making it 6-0 after 20 minutes.
There was a lot of talk surrounding young Saints halfback Danny Richardson, who was given a chance by Justin Holbrook with Matty Smith dropped from the side. The 21-year-old has had his critics all season but has often shown he has immense skill and maturity for such a young man.
It was Richardson who inspired Saints’ to hit back, kicking a 40/20 before putting Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook through a gap to score. Percival converted from in front of the sticks to level the scores.
The try gave Saints plenty of confidence as they started to chance their arm a bit more with Ben Barba at the heart of their attack, despite struggling in defence all evening. It was the home side, however, who scored against the run of play to give themselves a six-point lead at the break.
Some quick hands on their own 10m line from Scott Grix and Joe Arundel released Bill Tupou down the left, before the Kiwi showed electric pace to skin Ben Barba and race away to the line. Finn converted this time to put his side 12-6 up.
Théo Fages thought he’d scored on the hooter, but a knock-on in the build up from Morgan Knowles preserved Trinity’s lead.
‘Defensive’ is the best way to describe the start of the second half, with both sides looking pretty frantic and not focusing on attacking as much. It took nine minutes for the half’s first points, as Liam Finn slotted a penalty goal for a ball steal.
Saints continued to push and with less than 20 minutes to go, managed to close the gap to two-points. James Roby darted out of dummy half, found Alex Walmsley who threw a speculative offload that somehow found Fages for a walk-in. Percival converted to make it 14-12 and set up for a tense last quarter.
With their visitors looking more dangerous on every set, Trinity received some timely respite with two penalties coming in quick succession. Finn made no mistake with the first from right in front, but could only hit the post with his second effort, a mistake that would come back to haunt him.
With two minutes left, the visitors threw caution to the wind, with Mark Percival’s desperation grubber down the line not looking particularly threatening. With Scott Grix thinking he had more time, he could only throw a foot at the ball when Regan Grace came out of nowhere to try and ground it, kicking it straight into the path of Jonny Lomax for the match-winning touchdown. All the pressure was on Percival but he managed to keep a cool head to seal his side the two points and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Referee: Ben Thaler
Scoring Sequence: 4-0, 6-0, 6-6, 12-6, 14-6, 14-12, 16-12, 16-18