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Phil Clarke calls for league action to end St Helens “effectively cheating”

St Helens ground out a win over Huddersfield Giants tonight as they won 14-12 at the John Smith’s stadium.

Leading 12-6 at half time the Saints hung on throughout a second-half in which Huddersfield dominated possession and territory.

In part that was because of the huge number of ‘six again’ restarts that referee Jack Smith called against St Helens and as such Huddersfield had the ball in hand for plenty of time.

A prime example of this was in man of the match Matty Lees made a huge 68 tackles across the game.

During Lees’ post-match interview he references Saints’ ability to defend multiple sets on the bounce, and that was something that Sky pundit Phil Clarke took issue with.

“Maybe when they’re prepared to defend on their own try line, maybe one of the reasons why Huddersfield and other teams can’t score against St Helens is that they’d rather slow down the opposition and concede six more tackles in the belief that, ‘we’ll defend, as long as it’s not quick, we can defend our try line for two minutes’.

“Maybe that’s something that the game’s administrators needs to look at.”

He then further went on to state that St Helens secured victory over Salford in 2022 via similar methods, going as far to label it as “cheating”.

“They played a game last year against Salford at the end where they effectively cheated at the end to win the match in the league match.

“I do think that the game needs to be stricter at penalising sides that are purposefully holding down players or concede penalties or six agains near to their own try line.

“We need to see more yellow cards for that type of behaviour.”



  1. Des Platt

    March 24, 2023 at 12:01 am

    Well he should know as a regular niggler at play the balls for years

  2. Peter John Ling

    March 24, 2023 at 6:09 am

    What gets me is that the number of times you see the “water carriers” on the pitch effectively coaching the side, you can see them stay behind the “line” seeing if the instructions have been carried out, an obvious example was last night a ‘red’ T-shirted “trotted on passed the instructions, raised his hand and gave a “Thumbs up” sign and trotted off, he was IMMEDIATELY followed on to the pitch by a Yellow t-shirted “coach” who was clearly passing on instructions to another player and again after a few seconds again gave the Thumbs up sign and trotted off, this should be banned, in’s not like it was 30c out there and players were in danger of suffering from dehydration, this cheating has got to stop!!

  3. David Miller

    March 24, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    The remedies are already available in that refs can give penalties and / or sin binning players which used to happen for persistent offending teams by putting teams on a team warning – it’s outrageous that Phil Clarke has branded St Helens as cheats when they can be penalised if a ref feels it appropriate. It’s patently obviously as an ex-Wigan stalwart that he doesn’t like St Helens but branding them cheats is frankly a step too far and he should be ashamed of his comments.

    • dave dotcom st.helens

      March 25, 2023 at 2:32 am

      Phil Clarke is just disgruntled at saints getting the win,many teams try to slow the playdown,not just saint,s Wigan was fav for it just a few years ago,what was the old adage stevo use to say ..penalty ,penalty ,try..well if saints can defend for six sets and the opposission still cant score off the back of it,that has to be a testament to their defence and should be praised for it ,not called cheat,s

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