Saints progressed to the quarter final of the Coral Challenge Cup after a hard-fought 22-16 victory over a dogged Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith's Stadium.
Saints went ahead after a Regan Grace try before Joe Wardle and Aaron Murphy gave the Giants the lead with tries either side of a Lachlan Coote penalty. Saints went into the break ahead though following a try from Theo Fages. Coote extended Saints lead early in the second half, before Giants hit back within minutes with Wardle’s second try leveling the game at 16-16. It was left to Kevin Naiqama to score the winning try late on which booked Saints a place in the Challenge Cup quarter final where we will face Wakefield Trinity at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
A fast paced start from Saints in this 6th round Challenge Cup tie saw Huddersfield on the back foot early on. Saints turned that pressure into points in the 12th minute after a cut out pass from Coote found Grace out wide and he touched down in the corner.
The Giants hit back within minutes mind after a penalty put the Giants in prime position, before Wardle burst through a gap to score under the posts. Lee Gaskell added the two giving Huddersfield a 6-4 lead with 20 minutes played.
Saints won successive penalties through Grace and Alex Walmsley and Coote took the two from in front of the posts to level the game at 6-6.
The hosts regained the lead after a flowing move on their right edge allowed Louis Senior to offload to Murphy to score. Gaskell was unable to add the extras, but the Giants led 10-6.
Saints thought they had scored late on in the first half, but Fages was tackled metres away from the line on the last. But the little Frenchman wasn’t to be denied moments later as he latched onto a beautiful grubber kick through from Grace to score. Coote kicked the conversion giving Saints a 12-10 lead at half time.
The second half started with the defences on top as both sides exchanged sets. It took until the 52nd minute for the opening try of the second half and it came for Saints after Tommy Makinson knocked down a Fages kick for Coote to slide over in the corner. Coote was unable to add the extras, but Saints led 10-16.
The game was brought back level minutes later after Huddersfield earned repeat sets and took full advantage when Wardle steeped back inside the covering Saints defenders to power his way over to defenders to score under the sticks leveling the game at 16-16 with 20 minutes remaining.
Saints were in again though on the very next set after a high kick from Fages was knocked backwards from Makinson. The ball struck Matty Lees on the knee and Naiqama was first to the loose ball to score giving Saints an 22-16 lead with 62 minutes played.
Coote had a chance to wrap the game up with a penalty kick 10 minutes from time, but his effort drifted wide before Saints had to stand firm in the final 10 minutes as Huddersfield through everything forward in the hope of a last gasp try.
But as it has so often this season, Saints’ defence stood up to the challenge, kept the Giants out and came away from the John Smith’s Stadium with a 22-16 victory, booking our place in the last eight of the Coral Challenge Cup.
Huddersfield Giants: McIntosh, Senior, Turner, Murphy, Senior, Gaskell, Frawley, English, O’Brien, Matagi, Wardle, Mellor, Clough.
Interchanges: Leeming, Roberts, Hewitt, Ta’ai.
Tries: Wardle (16,58), Murphy (30)
Goals: Gaskell 2 from 3
St Helens: Coote; Makinson, Naiqama, Costello, Grace; Lomax, Fages, Lees, Roby, Walmsley, Peyroux, Taia, Knowles.
Interchanges: Paulo, Amor, Ashworth, Smith.
Tries: Grace (12) Fages (35) Coote (52) Naiqama (61)
Goals: Coote 2 from 4
Penalties: Coote 1 from 2
Referee: Simon Mikalauskas