St Helens 16-8 Warrington Wolves: Highlights, Talking Points and Player Ratings

After Friday night’s first playoff game saw Leigh Leopards crash out at the hands of Hull KR it was time for reigning champions St Helens to get their ‘drive for five’ underway as they hosted Warrington Wolves.

If Saints were to win their fifth Grand Final in a row then they’d have to do it from third for the first time but in their way was the last side to beat them in a playoff match.

Warrington snuck into the top six despite their nine game losing streak whereas Saints enter this game with nine wins in a row and the motivation of earning the retiring James Roby and Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook another Super League title.


Joe Batchelor limps off
Warrington looked strong early on and another worrying sign came for Saints when back-rower Joe Batchelor limped off just five minutes into the contest.

Percival spills four points
A brilliant line by Morgan Knowles saw him burst 40 metres through into the Wire twenty and it looked certain that Saints would open the lead but a strong last ditch Stefan Ratchford tackle caused Mark Percival to spill the ball over the try line.

Dodd breaks the deadlock
Saints earned a repeat set on the fifth tackle and it turned out to be incredibly costly for Warrington. James Bell’s smart pass saw Sironen break through and the forward found Lewis Dodd in support to open the scoring 25 minutes in.

Percival penalty extends the lead
Josh Drinkwater got his tackle on Jack Welsby wrong, tipping the full-back past the horizontal, granting Saints a penalty just 20 metres out. Percival opted for the two meaning Saints went in 8-0 at half time.

Wrench pulls one back
Just minutes into the second half the young centre broke free and rather than pass inside to Nicholson he just managed to beat Jack Welsby, with Ratchford’s 27th straight kick bringing the scores to 8-6.

Yellow for Walmlsey
Straight from the kick-off the game turned with Alex Walmlsey adjudged to have made contact with the head on Jordy Crowther and being sent for ten. Within the first five minutes of the second half Saints’ lead was reduced to two and they faced ten minutes with 12 players.

Ratchford levels up
For a frantic five minutes there was plenty of penalties but it was James Roby who gave away the crucial one in front of the sticks allowing Ratchford to knock over the penalty and tie the game up.

Makinson strikes back
St Helens were back to 13 and within minutes they were back in front, Jack Welsby offloaded out wide to Mark Percival and he shifted the ball to winger Makinson who danced through for his 23rd Super League try of the season.

Bullock goes for ten
Just like Alex Walmsley who saw yellow for contact with the head on the restart, Joe Bullock did the exact same, meaning it was Warrington’s turn to play a man down. Could Saints capitalise?

Saints go eight clear
A high tackle by Matty Russell with just seven minutes to go saw Saints able to knock a penalty over for two, extending the lead to eight points and 16-8, pushing the game out of the reach of the Wire.

Talking Points

Welsby shows why he’s Dream Team level
In the pre-game Sam Tomkins described Welsby as the “most complete player in Super League” and it’s hard to argue against that. Every time he carried the ball he looked a threat, particularly when returning kicks when he made numerous tackle busts.

Restarts equalling yellows
Both second half tries saw the return man copping a high tackle or contact to the head, with both incidents also resulting in yellow cards. Could we see a flurry of yellow cards during these playoffs if a precedent has been set?

A special Saints farewell to two legends
It was the last game for both James Roby and LMS at home in front of their adoring supporters and whilst the atmosphere was tense at times, it was a celebration of two exceptional careers. The only surprise was that Roby didn’t finish the game on the field, Moses Mbye instead spelling on at hooker.

Warrington’s weird season
They’ll have Sam Burgess in charge next season but what a strange season it’s been for Warrington. They started with eight consecutive wins before their mid-season rut saw nine consecutive losses, yet at times today in the arm wrestle they looked a certified playoff side. What they’ll look like in 2024 will be the key topic of the off season.

Player Ratings

St Helens

1: Jack Welsby – 9
2: Tommy Makinson – 7
4: Mark Percival – 6
3: Will Hopoate – 7
5: Jon Bennison – 7
6: Jonny Lomax – 7
7: Lewis Dodd – 8
10: Matty Lees – 7
9: James Roby – 6
11: Sione Mata’utia – 7
12: Joe Batchelor – N/A
16: Curtis Sironen – 8
13: Morgan Knowles – 7
8: Alex Walmsley – 6
15: Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook – 6
19: James Bell – 7
35: Moses Mbye – 7

Warrington Wolves

1: Matt Dufty – 7
34: Matty Russell – 7
20: Connor Wrench – 8
4: Stefan Ratchford – 8
5: Matty Ashton – 8
6: George Williams – 6
7: Josh Drinkwater – 6
8: James Harrison – 8
16: Danny Walker – 7
14: Sam Kasiano – 6
11: Ben Currie – 7
12: Matty Nicholson – 7
36: Jordy Crowther – 8
3: Peter Mata’utia – 5
9: Daryl Clark – 7
15: Joe Philbin – 6
19: Joe Bullock – 6