SAINTS couldn’t have made a worse start to their season ‘on the road’ as they were beaten 25-18 by Warrington.
The Wolves ran in four tries, clinically finishing off their chances, and produced a fine kicking and defensive performance to end their hoodoo over their rivals.
The damage was done in the first half as Warrington found far too many chinks in Saints armour.
Tony Smith’s charges were 18-0 up in as many minutes with Lee Briers the architect; grabbing two tries with Brett Hodgson adding the other.
The second forty didn’t fare much better with Louie Anderson crossing early on, but Michael Shenton, Chris Flannery and Lee Gaskell added late scores to at least give some consolation to the home fans.
But on this showing, Saints will need to tighten up in attack and defence as they head to France next weekend.
Saints welcomed back Paul Wellens and James Graham to the starting line-up following their recovery from rib and shoulder problems respectively.
Jamie Foster was added to the bench, Andy Dixon being named as ‘18th’ man.
Despite missing a few first team regulars, Tony Smith named a strong side which featured Lee Briers and Richie Myler.
Both sides emerged to an electric atmosphere and it was Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook that took up the first drive at Saints’ new home.
Warrington were first on the attack though, and after a couple of solid drives, Lee Briers stretched over to give his side a dream start. Brett Hodgson converting a try that may have had a little bit of obstruction in it.
Six minutes in though, Saints got their first look at the Wolves’ line but couldn’t away through the tight defence.
Moments later a huge drive from Sia Soliola saw the big man held up over the line.
It was good pressure from Saints, but was failing to deliver points – and the Wolves made Saints pay, hammering a forty-twenty up the field and crossing through Richie Myler who latched on to Hodgson’s chip.
And two minutes it got even better for the Wolves as Briers’ chip took a lucky deflection and he touched down under the posts.
Hodgson converting once more.
Saints gained a drop out following some clever play on 30 minutes – Roby held up after some quality drives – then forced another set.
Simmons’ men then gained yet another set following a shocking high tackle from Ryan Atkins – their fourth on the Wolves line – but couldn’t find that killer pass to post points.
Half time: Saints 0 Warrington 18
Jon Wilkin drove Saints to within feet early doors as Saints looked to pile on the pressure but on Warrington’s return up the field they grabbed a drop out.
And after Saints made an error Louie Anderson popped up with a four-pointer – naturally converted to six through Hodgson.
Saints toiled to gain any advantage in Warrington’s half but did get over the line through Michael Shenton who showed great strength.
Briers added a drop goal in the last ten minutes but Saints finished with a flurry as Chris Flannery rounded the full back to end a fine move involving both Eastmond and Gaskell.
Gaskell added another late on but Warrington got the win they deserved and left Saints with much to ponder.
Tries: Shenton, Flannery, Gaskell
Goals: Lomax (0 from 1), Foster (2 from 2)
Tries: Briers (2), Myler, Anderson
Goals: Hodgson (4 from 4)
Drop: Lee Briers
REF: P Bentham
1. Paul Wellens; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 20. Jonny Lomax, 5. Francis Meli; 25, Lee Gaskell, 7. Kyle Eastmond; 10. James Graham, 9. James Roby, 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 13. Chris Flannery, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 11. Tony Puletua, 14. Scott Moore, 16. Paul Clough, 22. Jamie Foster.
1. Brett Hodgson; 2. Chris Riley, 20. Matty Blythe, 23. Ryan Atkins, 5. Joel Monaghan; 6. Lee Briers, 7. Richie Myler; 8. Adrian Morley, 9. Michael Monaghan, 10. Garreth Carvell, 11. Louis Anderson, 12. Ben Westwood, 26. David Solomona.
Subs: 13. Ben Harrison, 14. Mickey Higham, 16. Paul Wood, 24. Rhys Evans.