SAINTS beat Huddersfield 66-14 to get in to playoff contention writes Graham Henthorne.
A poor first half display culminating in just a six point lead at the break saw the Saints play off hopes hanging by a thread.
But nine tries in a majestic forty minutes crushed the Giants and put the Saints in command of their own destiny.
In the opening stanza the Saints were a little guilty of believing their own publicity. Two tries in the first five minutes, the first a stretch from Joe Greenwood straight from the kick off after Lee Gaskell had put Scott Hale down the short side, and the second a hit and spin from Carl Forster gave the Saints a false sense of security.
The Giants hit back with a chip over the defence and then kept the Saints pinned on their own line for three sets of six. Credit the defence again, however, as it didn’t buckle but forced the error and then progressed down field only for Forster to be denied by Gaskell’s forward pass.
The big prop got what would have been his hat-trick try on the next set with another hit and spin over.
Once again the Saints were guilty of spilling possession and the Giants pulled closer punishing a Saints knock on.
Coach Talbot reminded the Saints at the break of all the hard work of the previous five weeks that was being thrown away at present and called for a big improvement. And that was exactly what he got as the real Saints took the field and steamrollered the Giants into submission.
Aggressive defence forced the Giants to knock on on their own 20 and from the scrum Alex Trumper went through the line feeding it wide to Dan Brotherton for the score.
From the kick off the Saints went back to back. Good drives from Scott Hale and Forster drove the team downfield and on the last Ben Karalius’ pin point high ball was knocked back in the air by Brotherton for Trumper to touch down.
Gaskell treated us to a wonderful piece of slight of hand for Hale’s first as looking wide along the line he slipped a peach of a short pass to Hale who beat the full back to the line.
Gaskell then scored himself dummying the kick on the last before feeding Nathan Ashe and then taking the return ball.
Hale got his second after Ashe broke the line, then Ashe managed to score himself piercing the defence yet again.
Josh Jones got a well deserved try pouncing on a Giants knock on, Anthony Walker charged over at the sticks and Ashe finished the scoring with his second winning the race to a loose ball.
The Giants got a consolation try at the final whistle which tarnished slightly what had been a dominant half of rugby.
Starting his first game Aaron McCluskey was too big a handful for the Giants to contain and teamed with Forster, Walker and the robot wrecking ball that is Jordan Hand the Saints have a quartet of forwards to match any. Couple that with second rows like Hale and Greenwood and halves of the calibre of Gaskell, Karalius and Ashe and the Saints are a force to be reckoned with.
A win against the City Reds in ten days time and the play offs are a reality and the Saints will be a team very few will choose to face.
The Saints would like to extend their best wishes for a swift recovery to Assistant Coach Mick Oxley who is recuperating from surgery. A task no doubt made much easier with the knowledge that his charges are continuing his good work.
Tries: Matt Dawson, Freddy Walker, Perry Whiteley.
Goals: Greg McNally.
Tries: Nathan Ashe 2, Lee Gaskell, Josh Jones, Dan Brotherton, Carl Forster 2, Scott Hale 2, Joe Greenwood, Alex Trumper, Anthony Walker.
Goals: Ian Cross, Tommy Johnson 3, Lee Gaskell 5.
Half Time: 16-10
Full Time: 66-14
1. Elliot Gorman; 5. Jake Shoal, 3. Chris Clark, 4. Matt Dawson, 2. Freddy Walker; 6. Ben Whitehead, 7. Greg McNally; 8. Adam Walker, 9. Owain Griffiths, 10. Dave Orwell, 11. Joe Fox, 12. Jamie Cording, 13. Aaron Briggs.
Subs: 14. Perry Whiteley, 15. Tom Hall, 16. Ross Peltier, 17. Ian Davies.
1. Nathan Ashe; 2. Tommy Johnson, 3. Josh Jones, 4. Ian Cross, 5. Dan Brotherton; 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Ben Karalius; 16. Aaron McCluskey, 9. Aaron Lloyd, 10. Carl Forster, 11. Scott Hale, 12. Joe Greenwood, 13. Danny Jones.
Subs: 14. Marcus Baines, 15. Alex Trumper, 8. Anthony Walker, 17. Jordan Hand.