JAMIE Foster rescued a point for Saints with a last gasp penalty at Hull KR.
With the hooter and the home support ringing in his ears he kept his cool to slot over from 30 metres after the excellent Gary Wheeler had been taken high.
Up until then Saints were 36-34 down in a thriller and staring down the barrel.
And with less than 10 minutes remaining they were still waiting for Francis Meli’s second.
The first half brought 44 points and not a whole lot of great defence from both sides.
Saints raced into a 14 point lead in as many minutes as tries from Sia Soliola, Michael Shenton and James Roby gave them a solid platform.
Hull KR then hit back to lead 18-14 before Saints forged ahead once again heading into the final stages of the half.
But another try from a kick – Rovers’ third in their four of the opening 40 – gave the homesters a half time advantage.
In the second half, Francis Meli drew Saints level after Jon Wilkin’s excellent work before Lance Hohaia’s great handling saw Paul Wellens go in for his 190th in the red vee.
But Con Mika got his second and Kris Welham punished poor discipline to make it 36-30.
And that’s how the game looked to be finishing until Meli popped up for his second and Foster landed home from an acute angle.
Most people wouldn’t have predicted such a tight clash with Saints being near full strength and KR missing their two starting halves.
Paul Wellens, Michael Shenton and Jamie Foster returned whilst Anthony Laffranchi and Tony Puletua paired up in the front row. On the bench were Andy Dixon and Gary Wheeler.
Rhys Lovegrove formed a partnership with Scott Murrell to make up for those missing half-backs for the home side.
After two strong sets Saints forced an error as some ferocious tackling dislodged the ball right in Hull KR’s territory.
From there Laffranchi made some good yards, Hohaia went close and the ball was shifted wide through Jonny Lomax and James Roby to Sia Soliola.
There was a hint of a knock on as the big man put the ball down but Ben Thaler gave it the nod.
Foster missing the conversion.
And it got better as Hull KR gave away a penalty on their next set. After Foster kept the ball in play on the left, it was scooped right through Lomax and Wellens for Shenton to pop up on his return.
Thirteen minutes in and more points as Roby backed himself and went over from 30 metres on the last tackle; Foster converting.
Although Robes took the plaudits, the move started in Saints’ own half and they moved away from their own line with some great passing and flair.
Scott Murrell chipped forward for David Hodgson to reply almost immediately; goaled by Craig Hall off the touchline.
And moments later Hull KR took advantage of a penalty with Mika’s plunge over from close distance.
Craig Hall kicking his second to make it a two-point game.
Then Hull KR were ahead and there was a great deal of luck about it. A chip over the top from 50 metres had the Saints defence on their heels and Shannon McDonnell touched down.
There was a hint of controversy about it though as he didn’t seem to get the ball down before the dead ball line.
Hall making it 14-18.
But Saints hit back as Lance Hohaia bamboozled the defence with a flat pass for Chris Flannery to stroll in.
Foster with his second of the afternoon to nudge Saints ahead.
The lead was short-lived as a simple chip through again saw the easiest of tries for Josh Hodgson.
Hall four from four with the boot.
That was Rovers’ third try from four from the boot and something Royce Simmons’ charges needed to address at the break.
Saints hit the second half strong with a repeat set and immediately profited when Wilkin recycled the ball well and Meli did the rest.
Saints forced another drop out on their next set and after Andrew Dixon produced a great run, Hohaia showed sleight of hand for Wellens to cut back inside and get over under pressure.
Foster with the conversion.
Mika bagged his second almost immediately, goaled by Hall, before the game hit a slight lull as both sides kicked early to gain territorial advantage.
Kris Welham then benefitted from a penalty to make it 36-30 to the home side.
Saints huffed and puffed in the final ten minutes as Paul Wellens went close – but lost the ball over the line.
But they did get the score they craved – the ball moving right through Lomax and Wheeler at pace and Meli was therefore unstoppable.
And in the last minute the excellent Wheeler was taken high giving Foster the chance to grab Saints a point – and he duly did from 30 metres out at an acute angle.
A point gained for sure.
Tries: D. Hodgson, Mika (2), McDonnell, J. Hodgson, Welham
Goals: Hall (6 from 6)
Tries: Soliola, Shenton, Roby, Flannery, Meli (2), Wellens
Goals: Foster (4 from 8)
Hull KR: 6
REF: Ben Thaler
1. Shannon McDonnell; 2. Craig Hall, 3. Kris Welham, 4. Jake Webster, 5. David Hodgson; 13. Rhys Lovegrove, 19. Scott Murrell; 8. Joel Clinton, 14. Lincoln Withers, 23. Mickey Paea, 11. Constantine Mika, 18. Graeme Horne, 15. Liam Watts.
Subs: 9. Josh Hodgson, 10. Scott Taylor, 20. Jordan Cox, 22. Scott Wheeldon.
1. Paul Wellens; 2. Ade Gardner, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Francis Meli, 22. Jamie Foster; 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax; 11. Tony Puletua, 9. James Roby, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 13. Chris Flannery, 4. Sia Soliola, 12. Jon Wilkin.
Subs: 8. Josh Perry, 10. Louie McCarthy Scarsbrook, 17. Gary Wheeler, 19. Andrew Dixon.
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