SAINTS went into Saturday’s game at sun drenched Craven Park knowing that defeat would rule them out of the play offs whilst the home side knew that victory would give them a great chance of progressing writes Graham Henthorne.
But from the off it was KR who looked under pressure and who cracked as the Saints racked up the points – securing a 52-24 win.
The revival in fortunes of late has in no small way been led by the prop duo of Carl Forster and Anthony Walker and the two were in outstanding form.
In the first set Forster’s footwork took him through the static Rovers defensive line to the full back whereupon he fed the supporting Nathan Ashe for the opening try.
Two tries for the big home prop, the last a 60 metre effort, caused a flutter of anxiety in the Saints ranks but that was as good as it got for the home team as the Saints ran riot.
Forster’s drive put the Saints on the attack and when the Rovers winger spilled Ben Karalius’ last tackle cross kick under pressure from James Hill, Joe Greenwood was on hand to pick up and score. Ian Cross, on as an early substitute for Josh Jones, kicked the first of seven from eight in an impressive all round display.
Dan Brotherton went 95 metres for yet another interception to put the Saints ahead.
Three scores in the final ten minutes broke the back of the Rovers resistance.
Another Karalius kick was spilled by Rovers for Ashe to pounce for his second and Brotherton got his brace courtesy of a bit of Irish Gold. Big Aaron McCluskey dislodged the ball with a big hit on the Saints 40. He picked the ball up, turned around, saw clear space, pinned his ears back and set off at a sprint. The cover caught him on the Rovers 20 but Gary Wheeler fed Brotherton from the play the ball.
Josh Jones had returned to the field in the pack and teamed up with Greenwood to put Wheeler away down the left. He stepped back inside, kicked through only for Karalius to finish off his good work grubbering to the line.
Expecting a backlash from the home side the Saints were primed and ready but it was the Saints who remained in total control.
Josh Jones broke through on the restart but with 2 outside and 1 inside to choose from he ran straight at the full back and the chance was gone.
Cross intercepted on the Saints 20, going 60 metres before being caught but as the ball was moved left Brotherton was pushed in touch when a try looked easier.
The Saints finally increased their lead as Gary Wheeler punished a Rovers knock on jinking his way over.
The home side rallied briefly but great defensive work over three repeat sets kept them at bay and the Saints turned that defence straight into attack as Wheeler pounced on another Rovers knock on in the air.
There was just time fro Ian Cross to show his talents as the Irishman broke through on the right before brilliantly dummying to his winger and then outpacing the full back to the posts.
Two consolation tries gave the score a flattering look but there was still time for Jordan Hand to break through, go 60 metres only to try to run through the full back instead of feeding Ant Walker who was steaming up on his inside.
The forwards were outstanding steamrollering the home pack containing both Rhys Lovegrove and Matt Cook and with Ashe and Karalius combining well they had no answer to the dominant Saints. The crusade now moves on to Huddersfield on Wednesday where a win will take the Saints into a play off position for the first time in a very long time.
Tries: James Maughan, James Green 2, Adam Sunman.
Goals: Luke Hardcastle 4.
Tries: Gary Wheeler 2, Dan Brotherton 2, Nathan Ashe 2, Ben Karalius, Ian Cross, Joe Greenwood, .
Goals: Gary Wheeler, Ian Cross 7.
Half Time: 34-12
Full Time: 52-24
1. Luke Hardcastle; 2. Nick Johnson, 3. Chris Heil, 4. Sam Bowring, 5. James Maughan; 20. John Gay, 7. Jordan Lee; 8. Richard Beaumont, 22. Nathan Powley, 10. James Green, 11. Aaron Ollett, 12. Matt Cook, 13. Rhys Lovegrove.
Subs: 21. Dave Petersen, 15. Adam Sunman, 16. Lloyd Ofari, 17. Scott Howlett.
1. Tommy Johnson; 2. James Hill, 3. Josh Jones, 4. Gary Wheeler, 5. Dan Brotherton; 6. Nathan Ashe, 7. Ben Karalius; 8. Anthony Walker, 9. Aaron Lloyd, 10. Carl Forster, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 13. Alex Trumper.
Subs: 14. Marcus Baines, 15. Ian Cross, 16. Aaron McCluskey, 17. Jordan Hand.