SAINTS were handed a 36-12 friendly defeat by Huddersfield Giants – leaving Royce Simmons plenty to ponder as the new season approaches.
Leading 8-6 at half time, they succumbed to a rousing second half performance from the Giants as Danny Brough led the way with a display of maturity.
His trickery saw Kevin Brown touchdown before he crossed for a score of his own.
Earl Crabtree added another – cancelled out by Gary Wheeler’s second – but Shaun Lunt ended any hopes of a comeback with a soft try.
It was in stark contrast to the opening 40 which saw Saints more than match their opponents in a half littered with penalties.
Referee Steve Ganson gave no less than 23 – disrupting the ‘roll’ of the match – and 34 in total during the game.
In-between the whistle-stops, James Roby and Gary Wheeler – who was excellent throughout the game – sandwiched a Danny Hodgson try before the Giants’ stepped up a gear.
In their second hit out of the season, Saints fielded their strongest side possible, with Kyle Eastmond making an unexpected return from ankle injuries. Paul Wellens also played after recovering from a rib problem, whilst Sia Soliola was named in the second row – Josh Perry now Saints only missing player. Like Royce Simmons, Nathan Brown also put out his strongest side with former Saint Lee Gilmour in the second row.
Saints were within the Giants’ half within the first two minutes as Steve Ganson penalised them three times. But Saints couldn’t find a telling pass to get over the line.
The referee then blew up another three times in Saints’ favour and with that territorial advantage they weren’t going to disappoint – James Roby finding space to cross.
Wheeler missing his conversion attempt.
Both sides exchanged penalties once again but the cold was affecting handling.
Ganson made the penalty count 11-3 in Saints’ favour by the quarter-way mark and it was soon 12-4 as whistle met lips once again.
It was a facet to the game that Ganson needed to end, and he did when David Fa’alogo was sin-binned for a high tackle.
Shortly after, on 23 minutes, Shenton was unlucky to be called back for a forward pass to Ade Gardner that looked set to stretch Saints’ lead.
It was mistake that Huddersfield punished – David Hodgson taking a sweet pass to go over in the corner – Brough booting the extras.
Saints did hit back though, and it was a fine flowing move that saw Gary Wheeler nudge Simmons’ boys back ahead.
This time, Scott Moore provided a long cut-out pass for the youngster to show what he’s about.
As was the plan, Kyle Eastmond was replaced by Jonny Lomax after 30 minutes, and thankfully there seemed to be no re-occurrence of the ankle problems of last season.
Half Time: Saints 8 Giants 6
Both sides started the half with good intentions, but couldn’t find the killer pass to affect the scoreboard.
But six minutes in Brough’s chip-through saw Kevin Brown touchdown – Brough converting the try he set up.
Seconds later, Graeme Horne broke through the line to feed Brough who tagged on the extras to make it 18-8 in the Giants favour.
Saints needed to up the ante and they did, finding space in the centre through Tony Puletua whose pass to Wilkin was called back for a forward pass as he crossed the line.
And on 57 minutes Earl Crabtree increased the lead further; Brough 100 per cent with the two points.
Wheeler nabbed one back with a characteristic dart – Foster missing the extras – before Shaun Lunt and Michael Lawrence put the game beyond doubt. Match Summary:
Saints: Tries: Roby, Wheeler (2) Goals: Wheeler (0 from 2), Foster (0 from 1)
Huddersfield: Tries: Hodgson, Brown, Brough, Crabtree, Lunt, Lawrence Goals: Brough (6 from 6)
HT (Sts First): 8-6
FT (Sts First): 36-12
REF: S Ganson
Saints: 1. Paul Wellens; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 17. Gary Wheeler, 5. Francis Meli; 6. Leon Pryce, 7. Kyle Eastmond; 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 9. James Roby, 10. James Graham, 4. Sia Soliola, 13. Chris Flannery 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 11. Tony Puletua, 14. Scott Moore, 16. Paul Clough, 18. Matty Ashurst, 19. Andrew Dixon, 20. Jonny Lomax, 22. Jamie Foster.
Huddersfield: 1. Scott Grix; 20. Jermaine McGillvary, 3. Leroy Cudjoe, 2. Michael Lawrence, 5. David Hodgson; 6. Kevin Brown, 7. Danny Brough, 15. Keith Mason, 13. David Faiumu, 10. Darrell Griffin, 4. Lee Gilmour, 12. David Fa’alogo, 11. Luke O’Donnell.
Subs: 8. Eorl Crabtree, 14. Shaun Lunt, 18. Larne Patrick, 19. Graeme Horne, 23. Kyle Wood, 29. Joe Wardle, 32. Jon Molloy.