SAINTS eased into the Fifth Round of the Challenge Cup with a comfortable 52-26 win over Sheffield Eagles – but they were pushed by a spirited Eagles side that will always be in the fans’ hearts after their 1998 Wembley triumph over Wigan.
Tries from Jamie Foster, Sia Soliola, Francis Meli and Michael Shenton gave them a 22-6 half time lead before Meli added another early in the second.
Further tries from Jon Wilkin, Foster’s second and Kyle Eastmond secured their passage before Quentin Laulu-Togage added a hat-trick late on for the Eagles.
Royce Simmons made two changes from the side that drew with Hull FC on Monday.
Nathan Ashe made his full debut at full back whilst Chris Flannery came into the second row after recovering from a hamstring injury.
Josh Perry starting at prop.
Saints went ahead first through Jamie Foster after his teammates capitalised on an Eagles error and fed the ball left.
He then converted off the touchline.
On 11 minutes a massive high kick from Kyle Eastmond was knocked on but on the subsequent set of six Saints couldn’t find a way through.
But the pressure was always building and after another error from Sheffield, Sia Soliola showed all his strength to stretch the lead.
Francis Meli added Saints’ third after a fine James Roby break but Sheffield hit back with a fine try started in their own half.
Quentin Laulu-Togage made the initial break and when it was fed left it bounced off a Saints’ player and Alex Szostak took advantage.
Simon Brown adding the extras.
But Saints hit back through Michael Shenton to go in 22-6 at half time.
Half Time: Saints 22 Sheffield 6
Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook inspired Saints’ first try of the second half – scampering through the middle to allow Francis Meli to get his second.
Jon Wilkin then received an absolute gift of an interception no less than two yards from the Sheffield line.
And Andrew Dixon and Francis Meli then combined for Jamie to grab his second.
On 53 minutes Sheffield added some more respectability to the scoreline with Szostak’s second, but Jon Wilkin’s break saw Kyle Eastmond cross restore the advantage.
Sheffield scored a consolation through Quentin Laulu-Togage as the clock hit ten to go.
And that man added another with less than five minutes to go – and then got his hat-trick seconds later.
Chris Flannery bringing the 50 up as the hooter went.
Tries: Foster (2), Soliola, Meli (2), Shenton, Wilkin, Eastmond, Flannery
Goals: Foster (8 from 9)
Tries: Szostak (2), Laulu-Togage (3)
Goals: Brown (3 from 5)
REF: Ben Thaler
27. Nathan Ashe; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 12. Jon Wilkin, 7. Kyle Eastmond; 10. James Graham, 9. James Roby, 8. Josh Perry, 4. Sia Soliola, 13. Chris Flannery, 21. Shaun Magennis.
Subs: 15. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 18. Matty Ashurst, 19. Andrew Dixon, 24. Tom Armstrong.
6. Quentin Laulu-Togage; 2. Danny Mills, 3. Menzie Yere, 26. Corey Hanson, 5. Tim Bergin;
13. Dane McDonald, 7. Simon Brown; 8. Jack Howieson, 9. Andrew Henderson, 10. Mitchell Stringer, 11. Alex Szostak, 12. Peter Green, 19. Joe Hirst.
Subs: 17. Alex Rowe, 22. Ryan Hepworth, 27. Eddie Battye, 30. Sam Scott.